Ulysses SparkNotes

James Joyce
technical director Maxwell Krohn
editorial director Justin Kestler
managing editor Ben Florman
series editors Boomie Aglietti, Justin Kestler
production Christian Lorentzen
writer Laura Heffernan
editors John Crowther, Justin Kestler
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plot overview
character list
analysis of major characters
leopold bloom
molly bloom
stephen dedalus
themes, motifs & symbols
the quest for paternity
the remorse of conscience
compassion as heroic
or the need for multiple perspectives
lightness and darkness
the home usurped
the east
plumtree’s potted meat
the gold cup horserace
stephen’s latin quarter hat
bloom’s potato talisman
summary & analysis
episode one: “telemachus”
episode two: “nestor”
episode three: “proteus”
episode four: “calypso”
episode five: “the lotus eaters”
episode six: “hades”
episode seven: “aeolus”
episode eight: “lestrygonians”
episode nine: “scylla and charybdis”
episode ten: “the wandering rocks”
eleven: “sirens”
twelve: “cyclops”
thirteen: “nausicaa”
fourteen: “oxen of the sun”
fifteen: “circe”
sixteen: “eumaeus”
seventeen: “ithaca”
eighteen: “penelope”
important quotations explained
key facts
study questions & essay topics
review & resources
suggestions for further reading
note: This SparkNote refers to the Gabler edition of Ulysses. Page and
line numbers, as well as textual details, will vary in other editions.
con t e xt
ames joyce was born on February 2, 1882, in Dublin, Ireland, into a Catholic middle-class family that would soon
become poverty-stricken. Joyce went to Jesuit schools, followed
by University College, Dublin, where he began publishing essays.
After graduating in 1902, Joyce went to Paris with the intention
of attending medical school. Soon afterward, however, he abandoned medical studies and devoted all of his time to writing
poetry, stories, and theories of aesthetics. Joyce returned to Dublin the
following year when his mother died. He stayed in Dublin for another
year, during which time he met his future wife, Nora Barnacle. At this
time, Joyce also began work on an autobiographical novel called
Stephen Hero. Joyce eventually gave up on Stephen Hero, but reworked
much of the material into A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which
features the same autobiographical protagonist, Stephen Dedalus, and
tells the story of Joyce’s youth up to his 1902 departure for Paris.
Nora and Joyce left Dublin again in 1904, this time for good. They
spent most of the next eleven years living in Rome and Trieste, Italy,
where Joyce taught English and he and Nora had two children, Giorgio
and Lucia. In 1907 Joyce’s first book of poems, Chamber Music, was
published in London. He published his book of short stories, Dubliners,
in 1914, the same year he published A Portrait of the Artist as a Young
Man in serial installments in the London journal The Egoist.
Joyce began writing Ulysses in 1914, and when World War I broke
out he moved his family to Zurich, Switzerland, where he continued
work on the novel. In Zurich, Joyce’s fortunes finally improved as his
talent attracted several wealthy patrons, including Harriet Shaw
Weaver. Portrait was published in book form in 1916, and Joyce’s play,
Exiles, in 1918. Also in 1918, the first episodes of Ulysses were published in serial form in The Little Review. In 1919, the Joyces moved to
Paris, where Ulysses was published in book form in 1922. In 1923, with
his eyesight quickly diminishing, Joyce began working on what became
Finnegans Wake, published in 1939. Joyce died in 1941.
Joyce first conceived of Ulysses as a short story to be included in
Dubliners, but decided instead to publish it as a long novel, situated as
a sort of sequel to A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Ulysses picks
up Stephen Dedalus’s life more than a year after where Portrait leaves
off. The novel introduces two new main characters, Leopold and Molly
Bloom, and takes place on a single day, June 16, 1904, in Dublin.
Ulysses strives to achieve a kind of realism unlike that of any novel
before it by rendering the thoughts and actions of its main characters—
con t e xt
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both trivial and significant—in a scattered and fragmented form similar
to the way thoughts, perceptions, and memories actually appear in our
minds. In Dubliners, Joyce had tried to give his stories a heightened
sense of realism by incorporating real people and places into them, and
he pursues the same strategy on a massive scale in Ulysses. At the same
time that Ulysses presents itself as a realistic novel, it also works on a
mythic level, by way of a series of parallels with Homer’s Odyssey.
Stephen, Bloom, and Molly correspond respectively to Telemachus,
Ulysses, and Penelope, and each of the eighteen episodes of the novel
corresponds to an adventure from the Odyssey.
Ulysses has become particularly famous for Joyce’s stylistic innovations. In Portrait, Joyce first attempted the technique of interior monologue, or stream-of-consciousness. He also experimented with shifting
style—the narrative voice of Portrait changes stylistically as Stephen
matures. In Ulysses, Joyce uses interior monologue extensively, and
instead of employing one narrative voice, Joyce radically shifts narrative
style with each new episode of the novel.
Joyce’s early work reveals the stylistic influence of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. Joyce began reading Ibsen as a young man; his
first publication was an article about a play of Ibsen’s, which earned
him a letter of appreciation from Ibsen himself. Ibsen’s plays provided
the young Joyce with a model of the realistic depiction of individuals
stifled by conventional moral values. Joyce imitated Ibsen’s naturalistic brand of realism in Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young
Man, and especially in his play Exiles. Ulysses maintains Joyce’s concern with realism but also introduces stylistic innovations similar to
those of his Modernist contemporaries. Ulysses’s multivoiced narration, textual self-consciousness, mythic framework, and thematic
focus on life in a modern metropolis situate it close to other main texts
of the Modernist movement, such as T. S. Eliot’s mythic poem The
Waste Land (also published in 1922) or Virginia Woolf’s stream-ofconsciousness novel, Mrs. Dalloway (1925).
Though never working in collaboration, Joyce maintained correspondences with other Modernist writers, including Samuel Beckett,
and Ezra Pound, who helped find him a patron and an income. Joyce’s
final work, Finnegans Wake, is often seen as bridging the gap between
Modernism and postmodernism. A novel only in the loosest sense,
Finnegans Wake looks forward to postmodern texts in its playful celebration (rather than lamentation) of the fragmentation of experience
and the decentered nature of identity, as well as its attention to the nontransparent qualities of language.
Like Eliot and many other Modernist writers, Joyce wrote in selfimposed exile in cosmopolitan Europe. In spite of this fact, all of his
work is strongly tied to Irish political and cultural history, and Ulysses
con t e xt
must also be seen in an Irish context. Joyce’s novel was written during
the years of the Irish bid for independence from Britain. After a bloody
civil war, the Irish Free State was officially formed—during the same
year that Ulysses was published. Even in 1904, Ireland had experienced
the failure of several home rule bills that would have granted the island
a measure of political independence within Great Britain. The failure of
these bills is linked to the downfall of the Irish member of Parliament,
Charles Stewart Parnell, who was once referred to as “Ireland’s
Uncrowned King,” and was publicly persecuted by the Irish church and
people in 1889 for conducting a long-term affair with a married woman,
Kitty O’Shea. Joyce saw this persecution as an hypocritical betrayal by
the Irish that ruined Ireland’s chances for a peaceful independence.
Accordingly, Ulysses depicts the Irish citizens of 1904, especially
Stephen Dedalus, as involved in tangled conceptions of their own Irishness, and complex relationships with various authorities and institutions specific to their time and place: the British empire, Irish
nationalism, the Roman Catholic church, and the Irish Literary Revival.
plot ove rvie w
Plot Overview
tephen dedalus spends the early morning hours of June 16,
1904, remaining aloof from his mocking friend, Buck Mulligan, and Buck’s English acquaintance, Haines. As Stephen
leaves for work, Buck orders him to leave the house key and
meet them at the pub at 12:30. Stephen resents Buck.
Around 10:00 a.m., Stephen teaches a history lesson to his class at
Garrett Deasy’s boys’ school. After class, Stephen meets with Deasy to
receive his wages. The narrow-minded and prejudiced Deasy lectures
Stephen on life. Stephen agrees to take Deasy’s editorial letter about cattle disease to acquaintances at the newspaper.
Stephen spends the remainder of his morning walking alone on
Sandymount Strand, thinking critically about his younger self and
about perception. He composes a poem in his head and writes it down
on a scrap torn from Deasy’s letter.
At 8:00 a.m. the same morning, Leopold Bloom fixes breakfast and
brings his wife her mail and breakfast in bed. One of her letters is from
Molly’s concert tour manager, Blazes Boylan (Bloom suspects he is
also Molly’s lover)—Boylan will visit at 4:00 this afternoon. Bloom
returns downstairs, reads a letter from their daughter, Milly, then goes
to the outhouse.
At 10:00 a.m., Bloom picks up an amorous letter from the post
office—he is corresponding with a woman named Martha Clifford
under the pseudonym Henry Flower. He reads the tepid letter, ducks
briefly into a church, then orders Molly’s lotion from the pharmacist.
He runs into Bantam Lyons, who mistakenly gets the impression that
Bloom is giving him a tip on the horse Throwaway in the afternoon’s
Gold Cup race.
Around 11:00 a.m., Bloom rides with Simon Dedalus (Stephen’s
father), Martin Cunningham, and Jack Power to the funeral of Paddy
Dignam. The men treat Bloom as somewhat of an outsider. At the
funeral, Bloom thinks about the deaths of his son and his father.
At noon, we find Bloom at the offices of the Freeman newspaper,
negotiating an advertisement for Keyes, a liquor merchant. Several idle
men, including editor Myles Crawford, are hanging around in the
office, discussing political speeches. Bloom leaves to secure the ad.
Stephen arrives at the newspaper with Deasy’s letter. Stephen and the
other men leave for the pub just as Bloom is returning. Bloom’s ad negotiation is rejected by Crawford on his way out.
At 1:00 p.m., Bloom runs into Josie Breen, an old flame, and they
discuss Mina Purefoy, who is in labor at the maternity hospital. Bloom
p l ot ove rvi ew
stops in Burton’s restaurant, but he decides to move on to Davy
Byrne’s for a light lunch. Bloom reminisces about an intimate afternoon with Molly on Howth. Bloom leaves and is walking toward the
National Library when he spots Boylan on the street and ducks into
the National Museum.
At 2:00 p.m., Stephen is informally presenting his “Hamlet theory”
in the National Library to the poet A.E. and the librarians John Eglinton, Best, and Lyster. A.E. is dismissive of Stephen’s theory and leaves.
Buck enters and jokingly scolds Stephen for failing to meet him and
Haines at the pub. On the way out, Buck and Stephen pass Bloom, who
has come to obtain a copy of Keyes’ ad.
At 4:00 p.m., Simon Dedalus, Ben Dollard, Lenehan, and Blazes Boylan converge at the Ormond Hotel bar. Bloom notices Boylan’s car outside and decides to watch him. Boylan soon leaves for his appointment
with Molly, and Bloom sits morosely in the Ormond restaurant—he is
briefly mollified by Dedalus’s and Dollard’s singing. Bloom writes back
to Martha, then leaves to post the letter.
At 5:00 p.m., Bloom arrives at Barney Kiernan’s pub to meet Martin
Cunningham about the Dignam family finances, but Cunningham has
not yet arrived. The citizen, a belligerent Irish nationalist, becomes
increasingly drunk and begins attacking Bloom’s Jewishness. Bloom
stands up to the citizen, speaking in favor of peace and love over xenophobic violence. Bloom and the citizen have an altercation on the street
before Cunningham’s carriage carries Bloom away.
Bloom relaxes on Sandymount Strand around sunset, after his visit
to Mrs. Dignam’s house nearby. A young woman, Gerty MacDowell,
notices Bloom watching her from across the beach. Gerty subtly reveals
more and more of her legs while Bloom surreptitiously masturbates.
Gerty leaves, and Bloom dozes.
At 10:00 p.m., Bloom wanders to the maternity hospital to check on
Mina Purefoy. Also at the hospital are Stephen and several of his medical student friends, drinking and talking boisterously about subjects
related to birth. Bloom agrees to join them, though he privately disapproves of their revelry in light of Mrs. Purefoy’s struggles upstairs. Buck
arrives, and the men proceed to Burke’s pub. At closing time, Stephen
convinces his friend Lynch to go to the brothel section of town and
Bloom follows, feeling protective.
Bloom finally locates Stephen and Lynch at Bella Cohen’s brothel.
Stephen is drunk and imagines that he sees the ghost of his mother—full
of rage, he shatters a lamp with his walking stick. Bloom runs after
Stephen and finds him in an argument with a British soldier who knocks
him out.
Bloom revives Stephen and takes him for coffee at a cabman’s shelter
to sober up. Bloom invites Stephen back to his house.
plot ove rvie w
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Well after midnight, Stephen and Bloom arrive back at Bloom’s
house. They drink cocoa and talk about their respective backgrounds.
Bloom asks Stephen to stay the night. Stephen politely refuses. Bloom
sees him out and comes back in to find evidence of Boylan’s visit. Still,
Bloom is at peace with the world and he climbs into bed, tells Molly of
his day and requests breakfast in bed.
After Bloom falls asleep, Molly remains awake, surprised by Bloom’s
request for breakfast in bed. Her mind wanders to her childhood in
Gibraltar, her afternoon of sex with Boylan, her singing career, Stephen
Dedalus. Her thoughts of Bloom vary wildly over the course of the
monologue, but it ends with a reminiscence of their intimate moment at
Howth and a positive affirmation.
Character List
Marion (Molly) Bloom Leopold Bloom’s wife. Molly Bloom is
thirty-three years old, plump with dark coloring, goodlooking, and flirtatious. She is not well-educated, but she
is nevertheless clever and opinionated. She is a
professional singer, raised by her Irish father, Major Brian
Tweedy, in Gibraltar. Molly is impatient with Bloom,
especially about his refusal to be intimate with her since
the death of their son, Rudy, eleven years ago.
Stephen Dedalus An aspiring poet in his early twenties. Stephen is
intelligent and extremely well-read, and he likes music. He
seems to exist more for himself, in a cerebral way, than as
a member of a community or even the group of medical
students that he associates with. Stephen was extremely
religious as a child, but now he struggles with issues of
faith and doubt in the wake of his mother’s death, which
occurred less than a year ago.
Malachi (Buck) Mulligan A medical student and a friend of Stephen.
Buck Mulligan is plump and well-read, and manages to
ridicule nearly everything. He is well-liked by nearly
everyone for his bawdy and witty jokes except Stephen,
Simon, and Bloom.
A folklore student at Oxford who is particularly interested
in studying Irish people and culture. Haines is often
unwittingly condescending. He has been staying at the
Martello tower where Stephen and Buck live.
character li s t
Leopold Bloom A thirty-eight-year-old advertising canvasser in
Dublin. Bloom was raised in Dublin by his Hungarian
Jewish father, Rudolph, and his Irish Catholic mother,
Ellen. He enjoys reading and thinking about science and
inventions and explaining his knowledge to others. Bloom
is compassionate and curious and loves music. He is
preoccupied by his estrangement from his wife, Molly.
jam es joyc e
character l is t
Hugh (“Blazes”) Boylan The manager for Molly’s upcoming concert
in Belfast. Blazes Boylan is well-known and well-liked
around town, though he seems somewhat sleazy,
especially toward women. Boylan has become interested
in Molly, and they commence an affair during the
afternoon of the novel.
Millicent (Milly) Bloom Molly and Leopold Bloom’s fifteen-yearold daughter, who does not actually appear in Ulysses.
The Blooms recently sent Milly to live in Mullingar and
learn photography. Milly is blond and pretty and has
become interested in boys—she is dating Alec Bannon
in Mullingar.
Simon Dedalus Stephen Dedalus’s father. Simon Dedalus grew up in
Cork, moved to Dublin, and was a fairly successful man
until recently. Other men look up to him, even though his
home life has been in disarray since his wife died. Simon
has a good singing voice and a talent for funny stories, and
he might have capitalized on these assets if not for his
drinking habit. Simon is extremely critical of Stephen.
A.E. (George Russell) A.E. is the pseudonym of George Russell, a
famous poet of the Irish Literary Revival who is at the
center of Irish literary circles—circles that do not include
Stephen Dedalus. He is deeply interested in esoteric
mysticism. Other men consult A.E. for wisdom as if he
were an oracle.
Richard Best A librarian at the National Library. Best is enthusiastic
and agreeable, though most of his own contributions to
the Hamlet conversation in Episode Nine are points of
received wisdom.
Edy Boardman One of Gerty MacDowell’s friends. Gerty’s uppity
demeanor annoys Edy, who attempts to deflate Gerty
with jibes.
Josie (née Powell) and Denis Breen Josie Powell and Bloom were
interested in each other when they were younger. Josie was
good-looking and flirtatious. After Bloom married Molly,
Josie married Denis. Denis Breen is slightly insane and
seems paranoid. Looking after her “dotty” husband has
taken its toll on Josie, who now seems haggard.
Cissy, Jacky, and Tommy Caffrey Cissy Caffrey is one of Gerty
MacDowell’s best friends. She is something of a tomboy
and quite frank. She looks after her younger toddler
brothers, Jacky and Tommy.
Martha Clifford A woman with whom Bloom corresponds under the
pseudonym Henry Flower. Martha’s letters are strewn
with typos, and she is sexually daring in only a
pedestrian way.
Bella Cohen A conniving brothel-mistress. Bella Cohen is large and
slightly mannish, with dark coloring. She is somewhat
concerned about respectability, and has a son at Oxford,
whose tuition is paid by one of her customers.
Martin Cunningham A leader among Bloom’s circle of friends.
Martin Cunningham can be sympathetic toward others,
and he sticks up for Bloom at various points during the
day, yet he still treats Bloom as an outsider. He has a face
that resembles Shakespeare’s.
Garrett Deasy Headmaster of the boy’s school where Stephen
teaches. Deasy is a Protestant from the north of Ireland,
and he is respectful of the English government. Deasy is
condescending to Stephen and not a good listener. His
overwrought letter to the editor about foot-and-mouth
disease among cattle is the object of mockery among
Dublin men for the rest of the day.
Dilly, Katey, Boody, and Maggy Dedalus Stephen’s younger
sisters. They try to keep the Dedalus household running
after their mother’s death. Dilly seems to have aspirations,
such as learning French.
character li s t
The citizen An older Irish patriot who champions the Nationalist
cause. Though the citizen seems to work for the cause in
no official capacity, others look to him for news and
opinions. He was formerly an athlete in Irish sports. He is
belligerent and xenophobic.
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character l is t
Patrick Dignam, Mrs. Dignam, and Patrick Dignam, Jr. Patrick
Dignam is an acquaintance of Bloom who passed away
very recently, apparently from drinking. His funeral is
today, and Bloom and others get together to raise some
money for the widow Dignam and her children, who were
left with almost nothing after Paddy used his life insurance
to pay off a debt.
Ben Dollard A man known around Dublin for his superior bass voice.
Ben Dollard’s business and career went under a while ago.
He seems good-natured but is perhaps rattled by a past
drinking habit.
John Eglinton An essayist who spends time at the National Library.
John Eglinton is affronted by Stephen’s youthful selfconfidence and doubtful of Stephen’s Hamlet theory.
Richie, Sara (Sally), and Walter Goulding Richie Goulding is
Stephen Dedalus’s uncle; he was Stephen’s mother, May’s,
brother. Richie is a law clerk, who has been less able to
work recently because of a bad back—a fact that makes
him an object of ridicule for Simon Dedalus. Richie and
Sara’s son, Walter, is “skeweyed” and has a stutter.
Zoe Higgins A prostitute in Bella Cohen’s brothel. Zoe is outgoing
and good at teasing.
Joe Hynes A reporter for the Dublin newspaper who seems to be
without money often—he borrowed three pounds from
Bloom and has not paid him back. Hynes does not know
Bloom well, and he appears to be good friends with the
citizen in Episode Twelve.
Corny Kelleher An undertaker’s assistant who is friendly with
the police.
Mina Kennedy and Lydia Douce The barmaids at the Ormond
hotel. Mina and Lydia are flirtatious and friendly to the
men who come into the bar, though they tend to be
scornful of the opposite sex when they talk together. Miss
Douce, who is bronze-haired, seems to be the more
outgoing of the two, and she has a crush on Blazes Boylan.
Miss Kennedy, who is golden-haired, is more reserved.
Ned Lambert A friend of Simon Dedalus and other men in Dublin.
Ned Lambert is often found joking and laughing. He
works in a seed and grain warehouse downtown, in what
used to be St. Mary’s Abbey.
A racing editor at the Dublin newspaper, though his tip,
Sceptre, loses the Gold Cup horserace. Lenehan is a
jokester and flirtatious with women. He is mocking of
Bloom but respectful of Simon and Stephen Dedalus.
A medical student and old friend of Stephen (he also
appears in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man). Lynch
is used to hearing Stephen’s pretentious and overwhelming
aesthetic theories, and he is familiar with Stephen’s
stubbornness. He is seeing Kitty Ricketts.
Thomas W. Lyster A librarian at the National Library in Dublin, and
a Quaker. Lyster is the most solicitous of Stephen’s
listeners in Episode Nine.
Gerty MacDowell A woman in her early twenties from a lowermiddle-class family. Gerty suffers from a permanent limp,
possibly from a bicycle accident. She fastidiously attends
to her clothing and personal beauty regimen, and she
hopes to fall in love and marry. She rarely allows herself to
think about her disability.
John Henry Menton A solicitor in Dublin who employed Paddy
Dignam. When Bloom and Molly were first courting,
Menton was a rival for Molly’s affections. He is disdainful
of Bloom.
Episode Twelve’s Nameless Narrator The unnamed narrator of
Episode Twelve is currently a debt collector, though this is
the most recent of many different jobs. He enjoys feeling
like he is “in the know” and has gotten most of his gossip
about the Blooms from his friend “Pisser” Burke, who
knew them when they lived at the City Arms Hotel.
City Councillor Nannetti A head printer for the Dublin newspaper,
and a member of Parliament. Nannetti is of mixed Italian
and Irish heritage.
character li s t
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J. J. O’Molloy A lawyer who is now out of work and money.
O’Molloy is thwarted in his attempts to borrow money
from friends today. He sticks up for Bloom in Barney
Kiernan’s pub in Episode Twelve.
character l is t
Jack Power A friend of Simon Dedalus and Martin Cunningham and
other men around town. Power possibly works in law
enforcement. He is not very nice to Bloom.
Kitty Ricketts One of the prostitutes working in Bella Cohen’s
brothel. Kitty seems to have a relationship with Lynch and
has spent part of the day with him. She is thin, and her
clothing reflects her upper-class aspirations.
Florry Talbot One of the prostitutes in Bella Cohen’s brothel. Florry is
plump and seems slow but eager to please.
Analysis of Major
character analys i s
Leopold Bloom functions as a sort of Everyman—a bourgeois Odysseus
for the twentieth century. At the same time, the novel’s depiction of his
personality is one of the most detailed in all literature. Bloom is a thirtyeight-year-old advertising canvasser. His father was a Hungarian Jew,
and Joyce exploits the irony of this fact—that Dublin’s latter-day Odysseus is really a Jew with Hungarian origins—to such an extent that readers often forget Bloom’s Irish mother and multiple baptisms. Bloom’s
status as an outsider, combined with his own ability to envision an
inclusive state, make him a figure who both suffers from and exposes
the insularity of Ireland and Irishness in 1904. Yet the social exclusion
of Bloom is not simply one-sided. Bloom is clear-sighted and mostly
unsentimental when it comes to his male peers. He does not like to drink
often or to gossip, and though he is always friendly, he is not sorry to be
excluded from their circles.
When Bloom first appears in Episode Four of Ulysses, his character is
noteworthy for its differences from Stephen’s character, on which the
first three episodes focus. Stephen’s cerebrality makes Bloom’s comfort
with the physical world seem more remarkable. This ease accords with
his practical mind and scientific curiosity. Whereas Stephen, in Episode
Three, shuts himself off from the material world to ponder the workings
of his own perception, Bloom appears in the beginning of Episode Four
bending down to his cat, wondering how her senses work. Bloom’s
comfort with the physical also manifests itself in his sexuality, a dimension mostly absent from Stephen’s character. We get ample evidence of
Bloom’s sexuality—from his penchant for voyeurism and female underclothing to his masturbation and erotic correspondence—while
Stephen seems inexperienced and celibate.
Other disparities between the two men further define Bloom’s character: where Stephen is depressive and somewhat dramatic, Bloom is
mature and even-headed. Bloom possesses the ability to cheer himself
up and to pragmatically refuse to think about depressing topics. Yet
Bloom and Stephen are similar, too. They are both unrealized artists, if
with completely different agendas. As one Dubliner puts it, “There’s a
touch of the artist about old Bloom.” We might say that Bloom’s conception of art is bourgeois, in the sense that he considers art as a way to
effect people’s actions and feelings in an immediate way. From his desire
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jam es joy c e
to create a newer, better advertisement, to his love poem to Molly, to his
reading of Shakespeare for its moral value, Bloom’s version of art does
not stray far from real-life situations. Bloom’s sense of culture and his
aspiration to be “cultured” also seem to bring him close to Stephen. The
two men share a love for music, and Stephen’s companionship is attractive to Bloom, who would love to be an expert, rather than a dabbler, in
various subjects.
Two emotional crises plague Bloom’s otherwise cheerful demeanor
throughout Ulysses—the breakdown of his male family line and the
infidelity of his wife, Molly. The untimely deaths of both Bloom’s father
(by suicide) and only son, Rudy (days after his birth), lead Bloom to feel
cosmically lonely and powerless. Bloom is allowed a brief respite from
these emotions during his union with Stephen in the latter part of the
novel. We slowly realize over the course of Ulysses that the first crisis of
family line is related to the second crisis of marital infidelity: the
Blooms’ intimacy and attempts at procreation have broken down since
the death of their only son eleven years ago. Bloom’s reaction to Molly’s
decision to look elsewhere (to Blazes Boylan) for sex is complex. Bloom
enjoys the fact that other men appreciate his wife, and he is generally a
passive, accepting person. Bloom is clear-sighted enough to realize,
though, that Blazes Boylan is a paltry replacement for himself, and he
ultimately cheers himself by recontextualizing the problem. Boylan is
only one of many, and it is on Molly that Bloom should concentrate his
own energies.
In fact, it is this ability to shift perspective by sympathizing with
another viewpoint that renders Bloom heroic. His compassion is evident throughout—he is charitable to animals and people in need, his
sympathies extend even to a woman in labor. Bloom’s masculinity is frequently called into question by other characters; hence, the second
irony of Ulysses is that Bloom as Everyman is also somewhat feminine.
And it is precisely his fluid, androgynous capacity to empathize with
people and things of all types—and to be both a symbolic father and a
mother to Stephen—that makes him the hero of the novel.
Over the course of the novel, we get a very clear picture of Bloom and
Stephen because we witness their interactions with many different people and see what they are thinking throughout all of these interactions.
For most of the novel we only see Molly Bloom through other people’s
eyes, so it may be tempting to dismiss her as a self-centered, unfaithful
woman. The way we decide to view her will require us to reevaluate the
understanding we have thus far formed of Leopold Bloom. If we focus
on the “vulgarity” and physicality of her monologue, our built-up sympathies with Bloom as the well-meaning husband of a loose woman are
The character of Stephen Dedalus is a harshly drawn version of Joyce
himself at age twenty-two. Stephen first appeared as the main character
of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which followed his development from early childhood to his proud and ambitious days before leaving Dublin for Paris and the realization of his artistic capabilities. When
we meet Stephen again at the beginning of Ulysses, it is over two years
after the end of Portrait. Stephen has been back in Dublin for over a
year, having returned to sit at his mother’s deathbed. Stephen’s artistic
talent is still unrealized—he is currently a reluctant teacher of history at
a boy’s school. He is disappointed and moody and is still dressed in
mourning over the death of his mother almost a year ago. Stephen’s
interactions with various characters—Buck, Haines, Mr. Deasy—in the
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ratified. But a more nuanced understanding of her involves seeing her as
an outgoing woman who takes a certain pride in her husband, but who
has been feeling a lack of demonstrative love. This idea yields a reevaluation of Bloom as being unfaithful in his own ways and complicit in
the temporary breakdown of their marriage.
Like Bloom, Molly is a Dublin outsider. She was raised in the military
atmosphere of Gibraltar by her father, Major Brian Tweedy. Molly
never knew her mother, who was possibly Jewish, or just Jewishlooking. Bloom associates Molly with the “hot-blooded” Mediterranean regions, and, to a lesser degree, the exoticism of the East. Yet
Molly considers her own childhood to have been normal, outside the
dramatic entrances and exits of young, good-looking soldiers going off
to war. Molly seems to organize her life around men and to have very
few female friends. She enjoys being looked at and gains self-esteem
from the admiration of men. Molly is extremely self-aware and perceptive—she knows without looking when she is being looked at. A man’s
admiration of her does not cloud her own negative judgments about
him. She is frank about topics that other people are likely to sentimentalize—intimacy, mourning, and motherhood, for example. She is also
frank about the extent to which living involves adaptations of different
roles. Her sense of this truth—which is perhaps related to her own
career as a stage singer—aligns her with Stephen, who is also conscious
of his outward existence in terms of a series of roles. Molly and Stephen
both share a capacity for storytelling, scene-setting, and mimicry.
Molly’s storytelling and frankness about role-playing evinces her sense
of humor, and it also mediates our sense of her as a hypocritical character. Finally, it is this pragmatic and fluid adoption of roles that enables
Molly to reconnect with Bloom through vivid recollections, and,
indeed, reenactments, of the past, as in her final memory of the Howth
scene at the end of Ulysses.
character analysis
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opening episodes of the book crystallize our sense of the damaging ties
and obligations that have resulted from Stephen’s return to Ireland. At
the beginning of Ulysses, Stephen is a self-conscious young man whose
identity is still in formation. Stephen’s aloofness and his attempts to
understand himself through fictional characters such as Hamlet dramatize his struggle to solidify this identity.
Stephen is depicted as above most of the action of the novel. He exists
mainly within his own world of ideas—his actions in the world tend to
pointedly distance himself from others and from the world itself. His
freeness with money is less a demonstration of his generosity than of his
lack of material concerns. His unwashed state similarly reflects his
removal from the material world. His cryptic stories and riddles cut
others off rather than include them. He stubbornly holds grudges, and
our admiration of his noble struggle for independence is tempered by
our knowledge of the impoverished siblings he has left behind. If
Stephen himself is an unsympathetic character, however, the issues central to his identity struggle are easier for us to sympathize with. From his
contemplation of the eye’s perception of the outside world to his teaching of a history lesson to his meditations on amor matris or “mother
love,” Stephen’s mental meanderings center on the problem of whether,
and how, to be an active or passive being within the world.
Stephen’s struggles tend to center around his parents. His mother,
who seems to blame Stephen for refusing to pray at her deathbed, represents not only a mother’s love but also the church and Ireland.
Stephen is haunted by his mother’s memory and ghost in the same ways
that he is haunted by memories of his early piety. Though Stephen’s
father is still alive and well, we see Stephen attempting to ignore or deny
him throughout all of Ulysses. Stephen’s struggle with his father seems
to be about Stephen’s need to have a space in which to create—a space
untainted by Simon Dedalus’s overly critical judgments. Stephen’s
struggle to define his identity without the constraint or aid imposed by
his father bleeds into larger conflicts—Stephen’s struggle with the
authority of God, the authority of the British empire, even with the
authority of the mocker or joker.
After the first three episodes, Stephen’s appearances in Ulysses are
limited. However, these limited appearances—in Episodes Nine, Fourteen, and Fifteen—demonstrate that Stephen’s attempted repudiation
of authority and obligations has precipitated what seems to him to be
the abandonment of all those close to him. At the end of Episode Fifteen, Stephen lies nearly unconscious on the ground, feeling as though
he has been “betrayed” by everyone. Never before has Stephen seemed
so much in need of a parent, and it is Bloom—not wholly father nor
mother—who cares for him.
character analys i s
Though Stephen plays a part in the final episodes of Ulysses, we see
less and less of his thoughts as the novel progresses (and, perhaps not
coincidentally, Stephen becomes drunker and drunker). Instead, the circumstances of the novel and the apparent choices that Stephen makes
take over our sense of his character. By the novel’s end, we see that
Stephen recognizes a break with Buck Mulligan, will quit his job at
Deasy’s school, and has accepted, if only temporarily, Bloom’s hospitality. In Bloom’s kitchen, Stephen puts something in his mouth besides
alcohol for the first time since Episode One, and has a conversation with
Bloom, as opposed to performing as he did earlier in the day. We are
thus encouraged to understand that, in the calm of the late-night hours,
Stephen has recognized the power of a reciprocal relationship to provide sustenance.
Themes, Motifs &
Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored
in a literary work.
The Quest for Paternity
At its most basic level, Ulysses is a book about Stephen’s search for a
symbolic father and Bloom’s search for a son. In this respect, the plot of
Ulysses parallels Telemachus’s search for Odysseus, and vice versa, in
The Odyssey. Bloom’s search for a son stems at least in part from his
need to reinforce his identity and heritage through progeny. Stephen
already has a biological father, Simon Dedalus, but considers him a
father only in “flesh.” Stephen feels that his own ability to mature and
become a father himself (of art or children) is restricted by Simon’s criticism and lack of understanding. Thus Stephen’s search involves finding
a symbolic father who will, in turn, allow Stephen himself to be a father.
Both men, in truth, are searching for paternity as a way to reinforce
their own identities.
Stephen is more conscious of his quest for paternity than Bloom, and
he mentally recurs to several important motifs with which to understand paternity. Stephen’s thinking about the Holy Trinity involves, on
the one hand, Church doctrines that uphold the unity of the Father and
the Son and, on the other hand, the writings of heretics that challenge
this doctrine by arguing that God created the rest of the Trinity, concluding that each subsequent creation is inherently different. Stephen’s
second motif involves his Hamlet theory, which seeks to prove that
Shakespeare represented himself through the ghost-father in Hamlet,
but also—through his translation of his life into art—became the father
of his own father, of his life, and “of all his race.” The Holy Trinity and
Hamlet motifs reinforce our sense of Stephen’s and Bloom’s parallel
quests for paternity. These quests seem to end in Bloom’s kitchen, with
Bloom recognizing “the future” in Stephen and Stephen recognizing
“the past” in Bloom. Though united as father and son in this moment,
the men will soon part ways, and their paternity quests will undoubtedly continue, for Ulysses demonstrates that the quest for paternity is a
search for a lasting manifestation of self.
The Remorse of Conscience
The phrase agenbite of inwit, a religious term meaning “remorse of conscience,” comes to Stephen’s mind again and again in Ulysses. Stephen
associates the phrase with his guilt over his mother’s death—he suspects
that he may have killed her by refusing to kneel and pray at her sickbed
when she asked. The theme of remorse runs through Ulysses to address
the feelings associated with modern breaks with family and tradition.
Bloom, too, has guilty feelings about his father because he no longer
observes certain traditions his father observed, such as keeping kosher.
Episode Fifteen, “Circe,” dramatizes this remorse as Bloom’s “Sins of
the Past” rise up and confront him one by one. Ulysses juxtaposes characters who experience remorse with characters who do not, such as
Buck Mulligan, who shamelessly refers to Stephen’s mother as “beastly
dead,” and Simon Dedalus, who mourns his late wife but does not
regret his treatment of her. Though remorse of conscience can have a
repressive, paralyzing effect, as in Stephen’s case, it is also vaguely positive. A self-conscious awareness of the past, even the sins of the past,
helps constitute an individual as an ethical being in the present.
In nearly all senses, the notion of Leopold Bloom as an epic hero is
laughable—his job, talents, family relations, public relations, and private actions all suggest his utter ordinariness. It is only Bloom’s extraordinary capacity for sympathy and compassion that allows him an
unironic heroism in the course of the novel. Bloom’s fluid ability to
empathize with such a wide variety of beings—cats, birds, dogs, dead
men, vicious men, blind men, old ladies, a woman in labor, the poor,
and so on—is the modern-day equivalent to Odysseus’s capacity to
adapt to a wide variety of challenges. Bloom’s compassion often dictates the course of his day and the novel, as when he stops at the river
Liffey to feed the gulls or at the hospital to check on Mrs. Purefoy. There
is a network of symbols in Ulysses that present Bloom as Ireland’s savior, and his message is, at a basic level, to “love.” He is juxtaposed with
Stephen, who would also be Ireland’s savior but is lacking in compassion. Bloom returns home, faces evidence of his cuckold status, and
slays his competition—not with arrows, but with a refocused perspective that is available only through his fluid capacity for empathy.
Parallax, or the Need for Multiple Perspectives
Parallax is an astronomical term that Bloom encounters in his reading
and that arises repeatedly through the course of the novel. It refers to the
difference of position of one object when seen from two different vantage points. These differing viewpoints can be collated to better approximate the position of the object. As a novel, Ulysses uses a similar tactic.
Three main characters—Stephen, Bloom, and Molly—and a subset of
Compassion as Heroic
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narrative techniques that affect our perception of events and characters
combine to demonstrate the fallibility of one single perspective. Our
understanding of particular characters and events must be continually
revised as we consider further perspectives. The most obvious example
is Molly’s past love life. Though we can construct a judgment of Molly
as a loose woman from the testimonies of various characters in the
novel—Bloom, Lenehan, Dixon, and so on—this judgment must be
revised with the integration of Molly’s own final testimony.
Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices
that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.
moti fs
Lightness and Darkness
The traditional associations of light with good and dark with bad are
upended in Ulysses, in which the two protagonists are dressed in
mourning black, and the more menacing characters are associated with
light and brightness. This reversal arises in part as a reaction to Mr.
Deasy’s anti-Semitic judgment that Jews have “sinned against the
light.” Deasy himself is associated with the brightness of coins, representing wealth without spirituality. “Blazes” Boylan, Bloom’s nemesis,
is associated with brightness through his name and his flashy behavior,
again suggesting surface without substance. Bloom’s and Stephen’s
dark colors suggest a variety of associations: Jewishness, anarchy, outsider/wanderer status. Furthermore, Throwaway, the “dark horse,”
wins the Gold Cup Horserace.
The Home Usurped
While Odysseus is away from Ithaca in The Odyssey, his household is
usurped by would-be suitors of his wife, Penelope. This motif translates
directly to Ulysses and provides a connection between Stephen and
Bloom. Stephen pays the rent for the Martello tower, where he, Buck,
and Haines are staying. Buck’s demand of the house key is thus a usurpation of Stephen’s household rights, and Stephen recognizes this and
refuses to return to the tower. Stephen mentally dramatizes this usurpation as a replay of Claudius’s usurpation of Gertrude and the throne in
Hamlet. Meanwhile, Bloom’s home has been usurped by Blazes Boylan,
who comes and goes at will and has sex with Molly in Bloom’s absence.
Stephen’s and Bloom’s lack of house keys throughout Ulysses symbolizes these usurpations.
The East
The motif of the East appears mainly in Bloom’s thoughts. For Bloom,
the East is a place of exoticism, representing the promise of a paradisiacal existence. Bloom’s hazy conception of this faraway land arises from
a network of connections: the planter’s companies (such as Agendeth
Netaim), which suggest newly fertile and potentially profitable homes;
Zionist movements for a homeland; Molly and her childhood in Gibraltar; narcotics; and erotics. For Bloom and the reader, the East becomes
the imaginative space where hopes can be realized. The only place where
Molly, Stephen, and Bloom all meet is in their parallel dreams of each
other the night before, dreams that seem to be set in an Eastern locale.
Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used to
represent abstract ideas or concepts.
Plumtree’s Potted Meat
The Gold Cup Horserace
The afternoon’s Gold Cup Horserace and the bets placed on it provide
much of the public drama in Ulysses, though it happens offstage. In Episode Five, Bantam Lyons mistakenly thinks that Bloom has tipped him
off to the horse “Throwaway,” the dark horse with a long-shot chance.
“Throwaway” does end up winning the race, notably ousting “Sceptre,” the horse with the phallic name, on which Lenehan and Boylan
have bet. This underdog victory represents Bloom’s eventual unshowy
triumph over Boylan, to win the “Gold Cup” of Molly’s heart.
Stephen’s Latin Quarter Hat
Stephen deliberately conceives of his Latin Quarter hat as a symbol. The
Latin Quarter is a student district in Paris, and Stephen hopes to suggest
his exiled, anti-establishment status while back in Ireland. He also
refers to the hat as his “Hamlet hat,” tipping us off to the intentional
brooding and artistic connotations of the head gear. Yet Stephen cannot
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In Episode Five, Bloom reads an ad in his newspaper: “What is home
without / Plumtree’s Potted Meat? / Incomplete. / With it an abode of
bliss.” Bloom’s conscious reaction is his belief that the ad is poorly
placed—directly below the obituaries, suggesting an infelicitous relation between dead bodies and “potted meat.” On a subconscious level,
however, the figure of Plumtree’s Potted Meat comes to stand for
Bloom’s anxieties about Boylan’s usurpation of his wife and home. The
image of meat inside a pot crudely suggests the sexual relation between
Boylan and Molly. The wording of the ad further suggests, less concretely, Bloom’s masculine anxieties—he worries that he is not the head
of an “abode of bliss” but rather a servant in a home “incomplete.” The
connection between Plumtree’s meat and Bloom’s anxieties about
Molly’s unhappiness and infidelity is driven home when Bloom finds
crumbs of the potted meat that Boylan and Molly shared earlier in his
own bed.
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always control his own hat as a symbol, especially in the eyes of others.
Through the eyes of others, it comes to signify Stephen’s mock priestliness and provinciality.
Bloom’s Potato Talisman
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In Episode Fifteen, Bloom’s potato functions like Odysseus’s use of
“moly” in Circe’s den—it serves to protect him from enchantment,
enchantments to which Bloom succumbs when he briefly gives it over to
Zoe Higgins. The potato, old and shriveled now, is an heirloom from
Bloom’s mother, Ellen. As an organic product that is both fruit and root
but is now shriveled, it gestures toward Bloom’s anxieties about fertility
and his family line. Most important, however, is the potato’s connection
to Ireland—Bloom’s potato talisman stands for his frequently overlooked maternal Irish heritage.
Summary & Analysis
s ummary & analys i s
It is around 8:00 in the morning, and Buck Mulligan, performing a
mock mass with his shaving bowl, calls Stephen Dedalus up to the roof
of the Martello tower overlooking Dublin bay. Stephen is unresponsive
to Buck’s aggressive joking—he is annoyed about Haines, the Englishman whom Buck has invited to stay in the tower. Stephen was awakened during the night by Haines’s moaning about a nightmare involving
a black panther.
Mulligan and Stephen look out over the sea, which Buck refers to as
a great mother. This reminds Mulligan of his aunt’s grudge against
Stephen for Stephen’s refusal to pray at his own mother’s deathbed.
Stephen, who is still dressed in mourning, looks at the sea and thinks of
his mother’s death, as Buck mocks Stephen for his second-hand clothes
and dirty appearance. Buck holds out a cracked mirror for Stephen to
see himself in. Stephen staves off Buck’s condescension by suggesting
that such a “cracked lookingglass of a servant” could serve as a symbol
for Irish art. Buck puts a conciliatory arm around Stephen and suggests
that together, they could make Ireland as cultured as Greece once was.
Buck offers to terrorize Haines if he annoys Stephen further and
Stephen remembers Buck’s “ragging” of one of their classmates, Clive
Buck asks Stephen about his quiet brooding, and Stephen finally
admits to his own grudge against Buck—months ago, Stephen overheard Buck referring to his mother as “beastly dead.” Buck tries to
defend himself, then gives up and urges Stephen to stop brooding over
his own pride.
Buck goes down into the tower singing, unknowingly, the song that
Stephen sang to his dying mother. Stephen feels as though he is haunted
by his dead mother or the memory of her. Buck calls Stephen downstairs
for breakfast. He encourages Stephen to ask Haines, who is impressed
with Stephen’s Irish wit, for money, but Stephen refuses. Stephen goes
down to the kitchen and helps Buck serve breakfast. Haines announces
that the milk woman is approaching. Buck makes a joke about “old
mother Grogan” making tea and making water (urine), and encourages
Haines to use it for a book of Irish folk life.
The milk woman enters, and Stephen imagines her as a symbol of
Ireland. Stephen is silently bitter that the milk woman respects Buck, a
medical student, more than him. Haines speaks Irish to her, but she
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does not understand and thinks he is speaking French. Buck pays her
and she leaves.
Haines announces his desire to make a book of Stephen’s sayings,
but Stephen asks if he would make money off it. Haines walks outside,
and Buck scolds Stephen for being rude and ruining their chances of getting drinking money from Haines. Buck dresses and the three men walk
down toward the water. On the way, Stephen explains that he rents the
tower from the secretary of state for war. Haines asks Stephen about his
Hamlet theory, but Buck insists it wait until they have drinks later.
Haines explains that their Martello tower reminds him of Hamlet’s Elsinore. Buck interrupts Haines to run ahead, dancing and singing “The
Ballad of Joking Jesus.” Haines and Stephen walk together. As Haines
talks, Stephen anticipates that Buck will ask Stephen for the key to the
tower—the tower for which Stephen pays the rent. Haines questions
Stephen about his religious beliefs. Stephen explains that two masters,
England and the Catholic Church, stand in the way of his free-thinking,
and a third master, Ireland, wants him for “odd jobs.” Trying to be conciliatory about Irish servitude to the British, Haines weakly offers, “It
seems history is to blame.” Haines and Stephen stand overlooking the
bay and Stephen remembers a man who recently drowned.
Haines and Stephen walk down to the water where Buck is getting
undressed, and two others, including a friend of Buck’s, are already
swimming. Buck talks to his friend about their mutual friend, Bannon,
who is in Westmeath—Bannon apparently has a girlfriend (we learn
later she is Milly Bloom). Buck gets in the water, while Haines smokes,
digesting. Stephen announces that he is leaving, and Buck demands the
tower key and two pence for a pint. Buck tells Stephen to meet him at a
pub—The Ship—at 12:30. Stephen walks away, vowing that he will not
return to the tower tonight, as Buck, the “Usurper,” has taken it over.
The first three episodes of Ulysses center upon Stephen Dedalus, Joyce’s
autobiographical protagonist from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young
Man. We left Stephen at the end of Portrait, an ambitious and slightly
arrogant young poet who was just finishing college and leaving Dublin
for Paris in the Spring of 1902. Ulysses picks up just over two years
later. In Paris, Stephen lived a bohemian-intellectual lifestyle after abandoning medical school. Stephen was called back from Paris by his
mother’s illness, probably in the summer of 1903. Almost a year later—
June 16, 1904—we see Stephen in “Telemachus,” unresigned to life in
Ireland and still dressed in mourning for his mother. He is as yet unrealized as an artist.
The novel’s epic in medias res (“in the middle of things”) opening
begins, however, not with Stephen, but with Buck Mulligan, who
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appears as a contrast to Stephen. Whereas Stephen is nearly silent and
very reserved, Buck is boisterous and physically active. Buck and
Stephen’s relationship is fraught: Buck seeks to establish superiority
over Stephen through mockery, yet he also trots out his cultural and
intellectual knowledge to impress Stephen. Buck is associated with the
consumption, recycling, and marketing of art, not the creation of it—he
is likened to a medieval patron of arts and encourages Stephen to market his witticisms to Haines. Buck serves to reveal Stephen’s stubborn
pride. Buck’s jokes that imply that Stephen is a servant, and Buck’s
eventual acquisition of the house key and Stephen’s money lead to
Stephen’s final, frustrated thought of the chapter—“Usurper.”
An early parallel between Stephen and Hamlet is set up in “Telemachus,” through Stephen’s brooding presence and the Elsinore-like setting
of the Martello tower. In the context of this parallel, we can begin to
understand Buck’s joking references to Stephen’s supposed madness and
Stephen’s resentment of Buck, the “Usurper,” as related to Hamlet’s
seething, silent resentment of Claudius. However, no single parallel can
be used to match a corresponding character in Ulysses. For example,
while Hamlet is famously haunted by the death of his father, Stephen is
haunted instead by the death of his mother. The complication of a direct
relation between Stephen and Hamlet is also disturbed by the fact that
Stephen himself is well aware of this relation—Buck informs us that
Stephen has his own “Hamlet theory,” which Haines mistakenly, though
not insignificantly, thinks will connect the play to Stephen himself.
Episode One introduces us to Stephen’s struggle with the ins and outs
of Irish identity. The poet Yeats wrote “Who Goes with Fergus?,” the
poem that Buck sings, and that Stephen sang to his dying mother. Yeats
is evoked in Episode One as a representative of the Irish Literary
Revival, a movement of Irish writers contemporary with the setting of
Ulysses who, in part, intended to define an insular sense of Irish identity, with the idea of making Ireland culturally, if not politically, independent from England. Stephen recognizes the milk woman as the type
of earthy peasant figure that the Irish Literary Revivalists and other
nationalists would idealize as a symbol of Ireland. Yet, for Stephen, the
figure she represents is barren. Her submissiveness toward Buck and
Haines confirms that she offers no release from Ireland’s servitude.
Additionally, the milk woman’s failure to recognize the Irish that
Haines speaks works to deflate such an idealized personification of
national identity. Stephen, especially through his self-conscious pose as
a continental bohemian, emerges in these opening chapters as a figure
dismissive of this kind of insular Irish self-definition.
Haines’s version of Irishness appears equally unacceptable. In light
of his familiarity with Irish culture and history, Haines’s passive and
self-absolving “It seems history is to blame” seems particularly irre-
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sponsible and is met with disgust by Stephen. Stephen’s remarks about
his own servitude to England and Catholicism are meant to point out
the power-relations that Haines attempts to complacently ignore.
Stephen’s addition of a third master—Ireland—is a somewhat proud
attempt to set himself apart from the Irish masses, who take their own
nationalism as a given. The theme of Stephen’s perception of himself as
a servant will persist throughout Ulysses. As in this discussion with
Haines, fluctuations between perceptive recognition of and prideful
resistence to various authorities define the progression of Stephen’s day.
Amor matris: subjective and objective genitive.
(See quotations, p. 82)
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Stephen is teaching a history class on Pyrrhus’s victory—the class is not
very disciplined. He drills the students, and a boy named Armstrong
phonetically guesses that Pyrrhus was “a pier.” Stephen indulges him
and expands on Armstrong’s answer, calling a pier “a disappointed
bridge.” He imagines himself subserviently dropping this witticism
later for Haines’s amusement. Thinking of Phyrrus’s and Caesar’s murders, Stephen wonders about the philosophical inevitability of certain
historical events—is history the fulfillment of the only possible course
of events, or one of many?
Stephen takes the class through Milton’s Lycidas as he continues to
ponder his own questions about history, questions he thought about
while reading Aristotle in a Paris library. An image from Milton’s poem
makes Stephen think of God’s effect on all men. Stephen thinks of the
lines of a common riddle then decides to tell the students his own riddle
as they gather their things and prepare to leave to play field hockey.
Stephen alone laughs at his impenetrable riddle about a fox burying his
grandmother under a bush.
The students leave, except for Sargent, who needs help with his arithmatic. Stephen looks at the ugly Sargent and imagines Sargent’s
mother’s love for him. Stephen shows Sargent the sums, thinking briefly
of Buck’s joke that Stephen’s Hamlet theory is proven by algebra.
Thinking again of amor matris, or mother’s love, Stephen is reminded
of himself as a child, clumsy like Sargent. Sargent heads outside to join
the hockey game. Stephen walks outside, then goes to wait in Deasy’s
office while Deasy, the schoolmaster, settles a hockey dispute.
Mr. Deasy pays Stephen his wages and shows off his savings box.
Deasy lectures Stephen on the satisfaction of money earned and the
importance of keeping money carefully and of saving it. Deasy
remarks that an Englishman’s greatest pride is the ability to claim he
History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.
(See quotations, p. 82)
Episode Two, “Nestor,” takes place at the boys school where Stephen
teaches. It is a half-day for the students and Stephen will leave for the
day after he teaches his class and is paid by Mr. Deasy. The episode
focuses on teaching and learning. We see Stephen positioned first as a
teacher and then as a student in his conversation with Mr. Deasy. The
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has paid his own way and owes nothing. Stephen mentally tallies up
his own abundant debts.
Deasy imagines that Stephen, whom he assumes is Fenian, or an Irish
Catholic nationalist, disrespects Deasy as a Tory—a Protestant loyal to
the English. Deasy argues his Irish credentials—he has witnessed much
Irish history. Deasy then asks Stephen to use his influence to get a letter
of Deasy’s printed in the newspaper. While he finishes typing it, Stephen
looks around his office at the portraits of racehorses and remembers a
trip to the racetrack with his old friend Cranly.
Stephen hears shouts welcoming a goal scored on the hockey field.
Deasy hands Stephen his completed letter and Stephen skims it. The letter warns of the dangers of foot-and-mouth cattle disease and suggests
that it can be cured. It seems that Deasy resents the influence of those
people who currently have power over the situation. He also seems to
blame Jews for similar corruption and destruction of national economies. Stephen argues that greedy merchants can be Jewish or gentile,
but Deasy insists that the Jews have sinned against “the light.”
Stephen remembers the Jewish merchants standing outside the Paris
stock exchange. Stephen again challenges Deasy, asking who has not
sinned against the light. Stephen rejects Deasy’s rendering of the past,
and states, “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.”
Ironically, a goal is scored outside in the hockey game as Deasy speaks
of history as the movement toward the “goal” of God’s manifestation.
Stephen counters that God is no more than “a shout in the street.” Deasy
argues first that all have sinned, then blames woman for bringing sin into
the world. He lists women of history who have caused destruction.
Deasy predicts that Stephen will not remain at the school long,
because he is not a born teacher. Stephen suggests that he may be a
learner rather than a teacher. Stephen signals the end of the discussion
by returning to the subject of Deasy’s letter. Stephen will try to get it
published in two newspapers. Stephen walks out of the school, pondering his own subservience to Deasy. Deasy runs after him to make one
last jab against the Jews—Ireland has never persecuted the Jews because
they were never let in to the country.
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subject of both educational scenes is history, and history as linked to
memory. Stephen’s history lesson for his class relies on their memory
of learned historical facts. Mr. Deasy’s impromptu history lesson for
Stephen is anchored by Deasy’s own personal memories of historical
events. Stephen himself resists the linking of history with memory. For
Deasy to define history in terms of his personal recollections affords
him too much control over the reconstruction of it (thus do Haines
and Deasy use history to absolve themselves of responsibility). For
Stephen, history is something that he cannot control: “History is a
nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” Stephen’s statement
refers both to his grappling with the circumstances of his own past,
and to the philosophical problem of how history should be used to
understand present circumstances.
Part of Stephen’s personal history that has nightmarishly, though
subtly, plagued him through this episode and the first is his mother’s
death. Stephen’s unsolvable riddle about the fox burying his grandmother suggests this personal pain. As he tutors Sargent, Stephen’s
ruminations about a mother’s love and love for one’s mother also evoke
her absence and stand in contrast to Deasy’s later misogyny. Stephen’s
imagination of a mother’s love creates a moment of compassion and
allows for an effective teaching between Stephen and Sargent. Otherwise, Stephen’s interactions with his students have been distracted and
cryptic. Stephen himself credits Deasy with accuracy when Deasy intuits later in the chapter that Stephen was not born to be a teacher.
On the whole, Deasy seems pompous and self-righteous. We are prepared for the didactic nature of Deasy’s conversation with Stephen by
our first glimpse of Deasy on the hockey field, yelling at the students
without listening to them. Deasy is unperceptive—mistakenly assuming
that Stephen is Fenian, he launches into a history lecture. The purpose
of this lecture is less to teach than to assert authority, an authority that
is undermined by several factual errors that Deasy makes. Like Haines,
Deasy (a Unionist from the north) is pro-British as well as anti-Semitic.
Just as Haines used history to clear himself of blame in Episode One (“It
seems history is to blame”), so Deasy uses history to blame others, notably Jews and women.
This prelude of anti-Semitism will be evoked later in the day, as Jewish Leopold Bloom faces similar bigotry. Deasy’s anti-Semitism rests on
his sense that the mercantile Jews have brought decay to England.
According to Deasy, the Jews have sinned against “the light,” the light
being those Christians who understand history as moving toward one
goal—the manifestation of God’s plan. But the presentation of Deasy’s
character undermines his own convictions. Instead of Christianity and
light, Deasy himself deals in coins and material goods. His moralistic
color scheme, in which good Christians are light and dangerous Jews
Stephen walks on the beach, contemplating the difference between the
material world as it exists and as it is registered by his eyes. Stephen
closes his eyes and lets his hearing take over—rhythms emerge.
Opening his eyes, Stephen notices two midwives, Mrs. Florence
MacCabe and another woman. Stephen imagines that one has a miscarried fetus in her bag. He imagines an umbilical cord as a telephone line
running back through history through which he could place a call to
“Edenville.” Stephen pictures Eve’s navel-less stomach. He considers
woman’s original sin, and then his own conception. Stephen contrasts
his own conception with that of Christ. According to the Nicene Creed,
a part of the Catholic mass, Christ was “begotten, not made,” meaning
that he is part of the same essence as God the Father and was not made
by God the Father out of nothing. Stephen, in contrast, was “made not
begotten,” in that though he has biological parents, his soul was created
out of nothing and bears no relation to his father’s. Stephen would like
to argue the specifics of divine conception (are the Father and the Son
the same being or not?) with heretic-scholars of the past.
The sea air blows upon him, and Stephen remembers that he must
take Deasy’s letter to the newspaper, then meet Buck at The Ship pub at
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are dark, is not to be the color scheme of Ulysses, in which the two
heroes, Stephen and Bloom, are dressed in black, and the dangerous
characters, such as Buck Mulligan, are associated with brightness.
Notably, Stephen challenges only Deasy’s anti-Semitism during the
conversation, and not any other of Deasy’s ill-considered comments.
Stephen’s overall passivity and politeness toward Deasy seem to have
more to do with his unwillingness to participate in a political argument
on Deasy’s terms. Stephen’s bohemian-intellectual comment that God is
“a shout in the street” is a clear departure from the terms of Deasy’s argument, and it confuses him. Deasy is aggressive and likens their conversation to armed confrontation—breaking lances. Stephen dislikes
violence. The subject of his morning history lesson, Pyrrhus, is notable
for winning a battle, yet reckoning the cost of the violence too great.
During his conversation with Deasy, Stephen is rattled by the noises from
the hockey field outside. He envisions the field hockey match as a joust
and imagines the boys’ moving bodies as sounds and gestures of bloody
battle. Rather than remaining in this atmosphere, prey to Deasy’s aggressive comments, Stephen politely signals the end of the conversation by
rustling the sheets of Deasy’s letter. When Deasy runs after Stephen in the
driveway to report an anti-Semitic joke, Stephen’s non-participation is
palpable. His thoughts are silent; his mind has moved on.
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12:30. He considers turning off the beach to visit his aunt Sara. He imagines his father’s mocking reaction to such a visit (his father is disgusted
by his brother-in-law, Richie, who is Sara’s husband). Stephen imagines
the scene if he were to visit: Richie’s son Walter would let him in and
uncle Richie, who has back trouble, would greet Stephen from bed.
Coming out of his reverie, Stephen remembers feeling ashamed of his
family when he was a child. This disgust for his family brings Jonathan
Swift to mind—Swift’s disgust for the masses is evidenced in his novel
Gulliver’s Travels by the noble Houyhnhnm horses and beastly Yahoo
men. He thinks of Swift, with a priestly tonsured head, climbing a pole
to escape the masses. Stephen thinks of priests all around the city and of
the piety and intellectual pretensions of his youth.
Stephen notices he has passed the turnoff for Sara’s. Heading toward
the Pigeonhouse, Stephen thinks about pigeons: specifically, the Virgin
Mary’s insistence that her pregnancy was caused by a pigeon (as recorded
in Léo Taxil’s La Vie de Jesus). He thinks of Patrice Egan, the son of Kevin
Egan, a “wild goose” (Irish nationalist in exile) whom Stephen knew in
Paris. He remembers himself in Paris as a medical student with little
money. He remembers arriving once at the post office too late to cash a
money order from his mother. Stephen’s ambitions for his life in Paris
were suddenly halted by a telegram from his father, calling Stephen home
to his mother’s deathbed. He thinks back to Buck’s aunt’s insistence that
Stephen killed his mother by refusing to pray at her deathbed.
Stephen remembers the sights and sounds of Paris, and of Kevin
Egan’s conversations about nationalism, strange French customs, and
his Irish youth. Stephen walks to the edge of the sea and back, scanning
the horizon for the Martello tower. He again vows not to sleep there
tonight with Buck and Haines. He sits on a rock and notices the carcass
of a dog. A live dog runs across the beach, back to two people. Stephen
imagines the beach scene when the first Danish Vikings invaded Dublin.
The barking dog runs toward Stephen, and Stephen contemplates his
fear of the dog. Considering various “Pretenders” to crowns in history,
Stephen wonders if he, too, is a pretender. He notices that the two figures with the dog are a man and a woman, cocklepickers. He watches as
the dog sniffs at the carcass and is scolded by his master. The dog pisses,
then digs in the sand. Stephen remembers his morning riddle about the
fox who buried his own grandmother.
Stephen tries to remember the dream he was having last night: a man
holding a melon was leading Stephen on a red carpet. Watching the
woman cocklepicker, Stephen is reminded of a past sexual encounter in
Fumbally’s lane. The couple pass Stephen, looking at his hat. Stephen
constructs a poem in his head and jots it down on a scrap torn from
Deasy’s letter. Stephen wonders who the “she” of his poem would be.
He longs for affection. Stephen lies back and contemplates his bor-
rowed boots and small feet that once fit into a woman’s shoes. He pisses. He thinks again of the drowned man’s body. Stephen gets up to
leave, picks his nose, then looks over his shoulder to see if anyone has
seen. He sees a ship approaching.
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There is very little action in Episode Three and only one line of dialogue—the chapter consists almost entirely of Stephen’s thoughts.
Joyce’s scant use of punctuation makes it somewhat difficult in Episodes
One and Two to distinguish between third-person narrative, interior
monologue, and dialogue. In Episode Three, the problem becomes not
how to distinguish Stephen’s interior monologue from all else, but how
to follow the twists and turns of that monologue itself. Stephen is an
extremely educated young man—his thoughts therefore flit over a host
of scholarly texts and several different languages. Episode Three also
offers a compendium of the symbols we have seen thus far, as Stephen’s
mind works in the language of symbols from earlier in the morning.
Thus Deasy’s shell collection, the sea as mother from Episode One, and
drowned male bodies recur in Episode Three and become motifs.
Thus far this morning, we have seen Stephen in his social and professional guises, with smatterings of his private thoughts. The more personal nature of Episode Three allows us to sense an undertone of
suffering (expressed through the recurring themes of death, drowning,
and decay) in Stephen’s thoughts. The Stephen Dedalus from the end of
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was isolated and full of pride.
He had ceased to communicate with those around him, and was cerebrally focused on his artistic coming-of-age and Parisian exile. The
Stephen of Ulysses is chastened by his untriumphant return to Ireland,
and has begun to learn the error of his ways—he must acknowledge and
interact with the world around him if he ever wishes to mature as an artist. The beginnings of Stephen’s maturation can be seen here in his willingness to be critical of his younger self.
At the beginning of the episode, Stephen briefly considers
philosophical solipsism—the idea that the world only exists in our
individual perceptions of it. He rehearses the refutation of this theory—
knocking his walking-stick against a rock. Despite his practical refutation of solipsism, however, Stephen’s attention in the first part of the
episode is focused not on his surroundings, but on his thoughts and on
his imaginative recreations of his surroundings. As the episode goes on,
though, Stephen begins apprehending more and more of his physical
surroundings—by the end of the chapter we finally have a sense, for the
first time, of the presence of Stephen’s body, as he urinates, touches his
rotten teeth, picks his nose, and looks over his shoulder. His attentiveness to his own physical presence within his surroundings leads him to
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produce art. He uses the cocklepicker as concrete inspiration for a poem
involving a female figure. Stephen’s artistic maturation will not be
accomplished today, June 16, 1904, but the direction in which Stephen
must continue is laid out for us in Episode Three. Leopold Bloom,
appearing finally in Episode Four, also serves as a model of outward
attentiveness in opposition to the cerebral Stephen.
Episode Three is associated with Proteus, the shape-shifting god.
Accordingly, the episode is full of transformations of all sorts—reincarnation, reproduction, mystical morphing, and material change. Stephen
sees figures and landscapes around him and shape-shifts them in his
poetic consciousness—for example, he associates the running dog with
a bear, a fawn, a wolf, a calf, a panther, and a vulture. Transformation,
in which one element translates into a new context (for example, a soul
into a new body), also characterizes the movement of Stephen’s
thought. His associations and topic-jumps are not always logic-based.
They often rely on one word or even the sound of a word to introduce an
entirely new thought into his mind. For example, the dog’s morphing
into a panther brings to mind Haines’s dream about a panther, which
then causes Stephen to try to remember what he himself had been
dreaming about when Haines’s moaning woke him.
Thus far in Ulysses, we have seen Stephen to be concerned with
mothers—for example, his own mother’s death, the concept of maternal love, and Eve as the original mother. In Episode Three, we get
Stephen’s first thoughts about fathers, his own father specifically, from
whom Stephen pointedly distances himself here. Kevin Egan, the exiled
Irish nationalist, functions as a sort of father figure in Episode Three as
well. To the extent that he is paternal, Egan represents the restrictive
pull of fidelity to country and to God and to an idealized past—restrictions that Stephen would prefer to avoid. Stephen’s actual lack of his
mother and his willed lack of a father underlies the movement toward
an expected climax in which Stephen might find surrogate parents in
Leopold and Molly Bloom.
Leopold Bloom fixes breakfast for his wife, Molly, and feeds his cat.
Bending down with his hands on his knees, he wonders what he looks
like to the cat and how her whiskers work as she laps milk. Bloom considers what he will get from the butcher for his own breakfast. He creeps
upstairs to ask Molly if she would like anything from outside. Molly
mumbles no and the bed jingles under her. Bloom thinks about the bed,
which Molly brought with her from Gibraltar, where she was raised by
her father, Major Tweedy.
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Bloom checks on a slip of paper in his hat and his lucky potato, and
he makes a note to retrieve his house keys from upstairs before he leaves
for the day. Bloom walks outside and anticipates being warm in the
black clothes he will wear for Paddy Dignam’s funeral today. He imagines walking a path around the middle part of the globe in front of the
sun’s path to remain the same age and he pictures the Eastern landscapes. But no, he reasons, his mental images are fictional material, not
accurate. Bloom passes Larry O’Rourke’s pub and wonders if he should
stop and mention Dignam’s funeral, but he simply wishes O’Rourke a
good day instead. Blooms tries to figure how all the small-time pub
owners like O’Rourke make money, given how many pubs there are in
Dublin. Bloom passes a school and listens to the students recite their
alphabet and Irish place names. Bloom imagines his own Irish place
name, “Slieve Bloom.”
Bloom arrives at Dlugacz’s, the butcher shop. He sees one kidney left
and hopes the woman in front of him does not buy it. Bloom picks up a
sheet of the wrapping newspaper and reads the ads. The woman pays
for her order, and Bloom points to the kidney, hoping to fill his order
quickly so that he can follow her home and watch her hips move. Too
late to catch her, he continues reading his sheet of newspaper on the way
home. It advertises fruit plantations for speculation in Palestine and
Bloom thinks of fruits from the Mediterranean and Middle East. Bloom
passes a man he knows who does not see him.
As a cloud passes over the sun, Bloom’s thoughts turn sour with a
more barren vision of the Middle East and the tragedy of the Jewish
race. Bloom vows to improve his mood by beginning his morning exercises again, then turns his attention to an unrented piece of real estate on
his street and finally to Molly. The sun comes back out and a blond girl
runs past Bloom.
Bloom finds two letters and a card in the hall. Bloom senses that the
one for Molly is from Blazes Boylan, Molly’s associate and possible
lover. Entering the bedroom, he gives Molly the letter and a card from
their daughter Milly in Mullingar. Molly puts Boylan’s letter under her
pillow and reads Milly’s card. Bloom goes downstairs to prepare the tea
and kidney. He skims his own letter from Milly.
Bloom brings Molly her breakfast in bed. Bloom asks her about her
letter, and she explains that Boylan is bringing over the concert program
this afternoon. Molly will sing “Là ci darem” and “Love’s Old Sweet
Song.” Molly directs Bloom to bring her a book. While he retrieves the
book, Bloom rehearses lines from “Là ci darem” in his head, wondering
if Molly will pronounce them correctly. Molly takes the book, a racy
novel entitled Ruby: the Pride of the Ring, and finds the word she
wanted to ask Bloom about—“metempsychosis.” Bloom rehearses the
etymology, but Molly asks for the meaning in plain terms. Bloom
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explains reincarnation. Spotting a painting of a nymph over their bed,
he gives her the example of nymphs returning in another form, such as
a tree. Molly asks for another book by Paul de Kock.
Molly smells Bloom’s kidney burning and he runs downstairs to save
it. Bloom sits down to eat and rereads Milly’s letter. She thanks him for
her birthday present and mentions a boyfriend, Bannon. Bloom thinks
of Milly’s childhood and of his son Rudy, who died several days after
birth. He thinks about Milly becoming a woman and being aware of her
own attractiveness. Since Milly has mentioned Boylan in her letter, he
thinks of Blazes Boylan’s confidence and feels helpless and regretful. He
thinks of visiting Milly.
Bloom fetches a copy of the magazine Titbits and heads toward the
outhouse to relieve himself. Bloom thinks of plans for his garden. On the
toilet, Bloom reads the story Matcham’s Masterstroke by Philip Beaufoy. Satisfied with the regularity of his bowel movement, he finishes the
story and thinks he could write a story and be paid for it. He could write
about a proverb or about Molly’s chatter. Bloom wipes himself with
part of the story. He reminds himself to check the funeral time in the
paper. Hearing the church bells, he thinks with pity about Dignam.
Episodes One, Two, and Three constituted a prologue centering on
Stephen as a Telemachus figure. With Episode Four, the morning begins
again—it is 8:00 a.m., and this chapter takes place simultaneously to
Episode One as we begin the adventures of “Odysseus,” Leopold
Bloom. Joyce subtly emphasizes this simultaneity by having both
Stephen and Bloom notice the same cloud move briefly over the sun.
Thematic correspondences also emphasize the simultaneity: both
Stephen and Bloom prepare breakfast for others; both are dressed in
mourning; both are dispossessed of their homes (Buck takes charge of
the tower, Molly and Boylan will take over the Bloom house); both
leave without their house keys.
Aside from these thematic correspondences, Episode Four also
serves to set up differences between Bloom and Stephen. Whereas
Stephen resentfully helped serve breakfast to Haines in Episode One,
Bloom solicitously prepares his wife’s and his cat’s breakfasts before his
own. The movements of Bloom’s body are foregrounded while
Stephen’s body was virtually absent from Episode One’s narrative.
Finally, Stephen’s last word in Episode One—“Usurper”—was theatrically bitter, while Bloom’s last line in Episode Four—“Poor Dignam!”—is sympathetic and mundane.
The character differences between Bloom and Stephen are most
clearly evident in their respective thought processes. As we see in Episode Three, a concrete thing turns into an abstract thought in Stephen’s
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consciousness, and these abstractions often lead back to Stephen himself. Bloom, however, perceives details by putting them in a larger context outside himself. Thus when Bloom walks past Larry O’Rourke’s
pub, the establishment spurs thoughts of comparative establishments
and of the larger trend of small-time pubowners in Dublin. Whereas
Stephen’s trains of thought take him further and further from reality,
Bloom checks himself when his imaginings become unrealistic, as with
his colorful mental image of walking around the globe. When the cloud
passes over the sun in Episode One, Stephen quickly descends into
depressive thoughts and is only (partly) revived by the intervention of
Buck. Bloom’s thoughts also turn depressingly to death when the same
cloud passes over the sun on his way back from the butcher’s, yet Bloom
pragmatically and deliberately revives his optimism. Finally, whereas
Stephen’s thought processes focus on philosophical or aesthetic problems and terms, Bloom’s mind is practically curious and he answers his
questions with practical experience and science.
Bloom begins his daily wanderings with his trip to the butcher’s.
Bloom’s wandering sets him in relation to both Odysseus and the tropic
figure of the Wandering Jew. Bloom’s attitude toward Judaism, however, is presented as ambivalent at best. He shows practical and romantic interest in the movement for a Jewish homeland and in the
newspaper ads for start-up plantations in Palestine. Yet he purposely
does not return a glance of implied solidarity from the Jewish butcher
and he does not follow Jewish dietary restrictions. The nature of
Bloom’s Judaism is not fully revealed in Ulysses—instead, Joyce shows
that judgments about Bloom’s Judaism reveal more about the other
characters than they reveal about Bloom himself. Bloom is also clearly
aligned with Irish identity through various details in Episode Four, such
as his Irish-language personal place name, “Slieve Bloom,” and his
potato talisman.
Bloom is somewhat feminized in Episode Four through the reversal
of household roles—Molly remains in bed and orders Bloom to get her
breakfast, tea, and a novel. He suspects at some level that his wife—a
concert soprano—is, or will be, conducting an affair with her concert
manager, Hugh “Blazes” Boylan. But Bloom’s thoughts reflect his feeling of powerlessness to stop his afternoon visit, and in a larger sense to
stop the infidelity of his wife or the impending sexual activity of his fifteen-year-old daughter, Milly. As Odysseus was helplessly enthralled to
Calypso in The Odyssey, so is Bloom presented in “Calypso” as paralyzed and enamored by Molly. Thus we see Joyce using the Homeric
parallels to produce irony—Molly here is the enchanting Calypso and
later the dutiful Penelope. Similarly, Bloom is Odysseus, yet we discover
in Episode Four that his only son, Rudy, died soon after birth.
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Bloom walks a roundabout route toward the downtown post office,
thinking about the people he passes and about the funeral he will attend
at 11:00 a.m. While reading packet labels in the window of the Belfast
and Oriental Tea Company, Bloom takes out the postal card for his
pseudo-nym, Henry Flower. Inspired by the tea labels, Bloom imagines
the heady atmosphere of the East. He surreptitiously walks into the post
office and picks up a typed letter addressed to his pseudonym.
Outside the post office, Bloom opens his letter, but before he can
read it, he is accosted by McCoy. Bloom makes small talk with McCoy
while he tries to determine what is pinned to the letter, now in his
pocket. While Bloom watches a sexy, upper-class woman across the
street, McCoy makes small talk about Paddy Dignam’s death, which he
heard about from Bantam Lyons. Bloom anticipates seeing the
woman’s leg as she steps into her cab, but a tram blocks his view. Still
chatting with McCoy, Bloom opens his newspaper and reads an ad:
“What is a home without / Plumtree’s Potted Meat? / Incomplete. /
With it an abode of bliss.” McCoy and Bloom speak about Molly’s
upcoming concert tour (McCoy’s wife is an aspiring singer). Bloom
thinks of Boylan’s letter this morning and skirts the topic of Boylan’s
management of Molly’s tour. Taking leave of Bloom, McCoy asks him
to put McCoy’s name down in the Dignam’s funeral register. As McCoy
leaves, Bloom thinks of the inferior singing ability of McCoy’s wife.
Bloom sees an advertisement for the play Leah. Bloom remembers
the story line, which involves the blind, dying Abraham recognizing the
voice of his long-lost son, Nathan. This reminds Bloom of his own
father’s death. Bloom finally pulls out his letter—it has a flower inside.
The letter is from his erotic penpal, Martha Clifford. In it, she asks to
meet her correspondent in person, calls him “naughty” for using a certain word in his last letter, and, finally, asks him what kind of perfume
his wife uses. Bloom puts the letter back in his pocket. He will never
agree to meet her, but he will push further with the wording of his next
letter. Bloom pulls the flower pin out of the enclosed flower and contemplates the many pins of women’s clothes. A song comes to mind:
“O, Mairy lost the pin of her drawers. . . .” He thinks of the names Martha and Mary, and of a painting of the biblical Martha and Mary.
Under a railway arch, Bloom tears up the envelope from Martha.
Bloom steps into the backdoor of a church, reads the missionary notice,
and ponders tactics for bringing religion to natives. Inside the church, a
ceremony is in progress. Bloom considers that churches provide opportunities for sitting close to attractive women. He thinks of the power of
Episode Five, “The Lotus Eaters,” is the first episode in which the thematic parallel to Homer begins to dominate the text. In The Odyssey,
Odysseus’s men eat the flower of the Lotus Eaters and become drowsily complacent, forgetting about their quest to return home. In Episode
Five, it is mid-morning and Bloom’s thoughts are lazy as he digests his
breakfast and kills time before Paddy Dignam’s funeral at 11:00.
Bloom’s attention wanders, yet the motif tying together many of his
sentiments and observations is intoxication or drugged escapism. We
are prepared for the motif from the opening page of the episode—
Bloom imagines the Far East as a lazily intoxicating place. This motif
then extends to other scenarios: Bloom notices the stupefied, effete
horses drawing a tram; he thinks of the calming narcotic effect of
smoking. Bloom spends a large section of the episode considering the
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Latin to stupefy. Sitting down in a pew, Bloom ponders the communal
feeling that must come from taking communion.
He thinks about Martha acting indignantly respectable one minute
about his diction, but asking to meet with him (a married man) the next
minute. This discrepancy reminds Bloom of the turncoat Carey, who
had a respectable, religious life, but was also involved with the “Invincibles” who committed the Phoenix Park murders. Bloom watches the
priest rinse out the wine chalice and wonders why they do not use Guinness or another beverage. Looking at the choir loft, Bloom thinks of
Molly’s performance of the Stabat Mater. As the priest finishes the ceremony, Bloom admires the effectiveness of the institution of confession
and the idea of reform. The mass ended, Bloom gets up to leave before
donations are requested. Bloom checks the time and heads toward
Sweny’s to order Molly’s lotion, though he has left the recipe (along
with his key) at home in his regular trousers.
At the chemist’s, Bloom thinks of alchemy and sedatives. While the
chemist searches for the lotion recipe, Bloom thinks of Molly’s lovely
skin and wonders if he has time for a bath. Bloom takes a lemon soap
from the chemist and plans to return later to pick up the lotion and pay
for both. As he leaves the shop, Bloom runs into Bantam Lyons. Lyons
asks to see Bloom’s newspaper so he can check on a horse race. Bloom
tells Lyons he can keep the paper since Bloom was only going to throw
it away. Lyons, mistaking Bloom’s statement for a tip on a racehorse,
hands the paper back to Bloom, thanks him and rushes off. Bloom
thinks disgustedly about betting fever and begins to walk toward the
public baths. He critiques an ineffective advertisement for college
sports. He greets Hornblower, the porter, and thinks ahead to the
moment when his body will be naked and reclined in a tub, his penis
limp and floating like a flower.
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stupefying power of religious ceremony—he assumes that religious
missionaries have to compete with a lazy, narcotic lifestyle to win over
a native population, and he appreciates the stupefying effect of Latin.
The motif of intoxicated escapism sets the appropriate mood for an
episode in which not much happens, and Bloom is largely alone. The
motif also points to Bloom’s efforts to escape his own thoughts about
Molly’s impending infidelity.
Indeed, the motif of lazy intoxication leads to a set of related
motifs, most of which point implicitly back to Molly. Bloom associates
exotic narcotics with the East, and his imaginations of the East, in
turn, relate to Molly. We learned in Episode Four that Molly grew up
in Gibraltar, where her father, Major Tweedy, was stationed. In
Bloom’s mind, Molly’s childhood in Gibraltar links up with thoughts
about Turkey and the Crimean War, with thoughts about model farms
and land schemes in Palestine, and, here in Episode Five, with imaginings of the lands and people even farther east in Ceylon or China.
Because Bloom’s varied mental pictures of the East connect with his
sense of Molly’s exoticism and eroticism, Molly remains present even
in an episode devoted to Bloom’s erotic correspondence with another
woman—Martha Clifford.
Bloom’s covert correspondence with Martha Clifford offers us
another perspective on the Blooms’ marriage. Instead of Molly being
the adulterous one and Bloom the adoring husband, we begin to consider Bloom’s own part in the lapse of their relations. Yet Bloom seems
more temporarily amused by Martha’s letter (spelling errors and all)
than committed to having an affair with her. Our new perspective of
Bloom in this episode also offers us glimpses of his more perverse tendencies: a desire to be punished, a fetish for women’s underclothing, his
fantasies about meeting a woman during or after church.
The scenario of the Martha-Bloom correspondence offers another
motif related to the drugged escapism of the Lotus flower eaters—the
motif of flowers themselves. Bloom chooses the pseudonym “Henry
Flower” (a kind of synonym for “Bloom”). Martha encloses a yellow
flower in her letter to Bloom. Yet even this motif leads back to Molly.
Martha’s flower has no scent, and the final question of her letter is
about his wife’s perfume. Accordingly, Bloom’s imagination of a tryst
with Martha segues through a dream of two biblical doting women,
Mary and Martha, thus leading back to Molly, whose Christian name
is Marion (Mary).
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Bloom steps into a carriage after Martin Cunningham, Jack Power, and
Simon Dedalus—they are going to Dignam’s funeral. As the carriage
begins to move, Bloom points out Stephen on the street. Simon disapprovingly asks if Mulligan is with him. Bloom thinks Simon is too vehement, but reasons that Simon is right to look out for Stephen, as Bloom
would have for Rudy, if he had lived.
Cunningham starts to describe his night at the pub and then asks
Dedalus if he has read Dan Dawson’s speech in this morning’s paper.
Bloom moves to take out the paper for Dedalus, but Dedalus signals
that it would be inappropriate to read it now. Bloom skims the obituaries and checks that he still has Martha’s letter. Bloom’s thoughts
soon wander to Boylan and his upcoming afternoon visit. At this
moment, the carriage passes Boylan in the street, and the other men
salute him from the carriage. Bloom is flustered by the coincidence. He
does not understand what Molly and the others see in Boylan. Power
asks Bloom about Molly’s concert, referring to her as Madame, which
makes Bloom uncomfortable.
The carriage passes Reuben J. Dodd, a moneylender, and the men
curse him. Cunningham remarks that they have all owed money to
Dodd—except Bloom, his look implies. Bloom begins to tell a humorous story about how Dodd’s son almost drowned, but Cunningham
rudely takes over. The men soon check their laughter and reminisce
sadly about Dignam. Bloom remarks that he died the best way, quickly
and painlessly, but the other men disagree silently—Catholics fear a
sudden death because one has no chance to repent. Power pronounces
that the worst death is a suicide and Dedalus agrees. Cunningham,
knowing that Bloom’s father committed suicide, argues for a charitable
attitude toward it. Bloom is appreciative of Cunningham’s sympathy.
The carriage stops for a cattle crossing. Bloom wonders aloud why
there is no tramline for the cattle and Cunningham agrees. Bloom also
suggests funeral trams, but the others agree only reluctantly. Cunningham reasons that a tram would prevent hearse accidents, such as the one
recently that ended with a coffin dumped onto the road. Bloom envisions Dignam spilling out of his coffin. The carriage passes a water
canal that runs to Mullingar, where Milly lives, and Bloom considers
visiting her. Meanwhile, Power points out the house where the Childs
fratricide, a well-known murder, took place.
The carriage arrives and the men get out. Trailing behind, Cunningham fills Power in about Bloom’s father’s suicide. Bloom asks Tom
Kernan if Dignam was insured. Ned Lambert reports that Cunningham is taking up a collection for the Dignam children. Bloom looks on
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one of Dignam’s sons with pity. They enter the church and kneel—
Bloom last. Bloom watches the unfamiliar ceremony and thinks about
the repetitiveness of a priest’s job. The ceremony ends and the coffin is
carried outside.
As the procession passes May Dedalus’s grave, Dedalus begins crying. Bloom thinks about the realities of death—specifically, the failure
of body organs. Corny Kelleher, the undertaker, joins them. Ahead,
John Henry Menton asks who Bloom is. Lambert explains that he is
Molly’s husband. Menton fondly recalls dancing with Molly once, and
he harshly wonders why Molly married Bloom.
The cemetery caretaker, John O’Connell, approaches the men and
tells a good-natured joke. Bloom wonders what it would be like to be
O’Connell’s wife—would the graveyard be distracting? He admires the
neatness of O’Connell’s cemetery, but he thinks it would more efficient
to bury bodies vertically. He thinks about the fertilizing power of dead
bodies and imagines a system by which people would donate their bodies to fertilize gardens. Thinking of O’Connell’s jokes, Bloom recalls the
joking grave diggers in Hamlet. However, Bloom thinks, one should not
joke about the dead during the two-year mourning period. In the background, O’Connell and Kelleher confer about tomorrow’s funerals.
The men assemble around the grave, and Bloom wonders who the
man in the macintosh is—he is the unlucky thirteenth member of the
party, and he was not in the chapel for the service. Bloom thinks of his
own funeral plot with his mother and son in it already. He thinks of
the horror of being buried alive and how telephones in coffins would
prevent it.
The reporter, Hynes, asks Bloom for his full name. Bloom asks him
to mention McCoy’s name, as well, as McCoy had requested in Episode
Five. He asks Bloom for the name of the unfamiliar man in the macintosh, but Bloom does not know it. Bloom watches as the grave diggers
finish. Bloom strolls through the cemetery, thinking that the money
spent on luxurious graves could be given to charities for the living and
that gravestones would be more interesting if they explained who the
person was. He thinks of his upcoming visit to his father’s grave. He sees
a rat and thinks of a rat eating a corpse. Bloom is happy to be leaving the
cemetery, since he has been thinking about necrophilia, ghosts, hell, and
how a graveyard visit makes one feel closer to death. He passes Menton
on the way out and tells him his hat has a ding in it. Menton snubs him.
Much of Episode Six is concerned with Bloom’s relative isolation within
a social group. Bloom is positioned as a latecomer, an outsider, and an
anomaly in the cab with Dedalus, Cunningham, and Power; in the
chapel service; and in the cemetery in relation to Menton and other
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attendees of Dignam’s funeral. Bloom’s exclusion is vaguely implicit:
Bloom is invited to step in the cab last, and he is not referred to by his
Christian name. He is not bantered with, and Hynes (to whom Bloom
has lent money) admits to not knowing his Christian name. It is not
clear how much Bloom recognizes his own exclusion. For example, the
third-person narrator characterizes Cunningham as rude when he interrupts Bloom, yet Bloom himself thinks minutes later about Cunningham’s capacity for sympathy. Aside from the imperious John Henry
Menton, the other men’s exclusion of Bloom does not take a vicious
form—he is merely not as close to the men as they are to each other and
is treated accordingly.
The men’s attitude toward Bloom seems pointed only when it is
implicitly connected to his Jewishness or to Molly. When the other
men spot Reuben J. Dodd, their animosity for him as a moneylender
merges with their anti-Semitism, and Bloom is implicitly excluded
from their sentiments, both because of his Jewishness and because he
has never had to borrow money. Bloom again feels vaguely attacked
when Power, seeing Boylan, asks Bloom if he will be accompanying
Molly and Boylan to the concert in Belfast and refers to Molly, less
than respectfully, as Madame.
Bloom’s thoughts in Episode Six do not focus on this social exclusion. Instead, Episode Six parallels Episode Three’s thematic focus on
fathers and sons. In Episode Three, we saw Stephen thinking for the first
time about his father, Simon Dedalus, and about fathers in general,
rather than solely about his dead mother. Here in Episode Six, we not
only see Simon’s view of his son Stephen, but we also see Bloom’s
thoughts move away from Molly and Milly to center on memories of his
dead father and son and to thoughts about paternity generally. Here we
learn explicitly that Bloom’s father committed suicide several years ago,
and Bloom’s thoughts about him dovetail with thoughts about his son,
Rudy, who died several days after birth. Bloom’s thoughts on paternity
extend easily in this episode from the personal to the general—he views
other fathers and sons, such as Simon Dedalus and Dignam’s young
son, with an eye of understanding and sympathy. While Stephen, in Episode Three, seem to willfully isolate himself from his father, Bloom here
suffers from his own father-son isolation—he has no means by which to
continue his family line. Without a patriarchal history or future—the
foundation of epics like The Odyssey—Bloom seems remarkably vulnerable in Episode Six.
The true pathos of Episode Six is not reserved for the funeral service,
during which Bloom’s thoughts seem humorously detached, giving us a
defamiliarized version of the Catholic priest’s activities. It is in this sense
that Ulysses strives to be a truly realistic novel. Instead of depicting
Bloom at the funeral as a character who feels as one is supposed to
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feel—awed, sentimental, or quietly sad—Joyce purports to show Bloom
as he would actually feel, in all its messiness, self-centeredness, and
inappropriateness. The pathos of “Hades,” then, is reserved for unspectacular moments, or even repressed moments, such as Bloom’s quietly
panicked reaction when the men see and salute Blazes Boylan in the
street. Bloom’s reflexive and thorough study of his fingernails in
response to Boylan’s appearance is a restrained and implicit representation of pathos that makes a stronger bid for our sympathy than, for
example, Simon Dedalus’s scripted tearfulness near the grave of his
wife, later in the episode.
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Episode Seven takes place in the Freeman newspaper offices.
Newspaper-like headlines break the episode up into smaller passages.
Without the headlines, the episode reads much the same as previous episodes have.
In Dublin’s city-center, tramcars, postal carts, and porter barrels
simultaneously roll to their destinations. Bloom is in the back office of
the Freeman getting a copy of his Keyes advertisement. Bloom walks
through the printing rooms to the Telegraph offices, which are under
the same ownership as the Freeman. He approaches the foreman, City
Councillor Nanetti, who is Italian by birth and Irish by choice. Nanetti
is speaking to Hynes about his report of Dignam’s funeral. Hynes owes
Bloom three shillings, and Bloom tries to tactfully remind him about it,
but Hynes does not catch on.
Over the noise of the presses, Bloom describes the new design for the
Keyes ad: two keys crossed, to evoke the independent parliament of the
Isle of Man and thus the dream of Irish home-rule. Nanetti tells Bloom
to get a copy of the design and to secure three months advertisement
from Keyes. Bloom listens for a moment to the sound of papers shuffling through the printer, then walks toward the staff offices. Bloom
watches the men typeset backward and thinks of his father reading
Hebrew, from right to left. Bloom enters the Evening Telegraph office,
where Professor MacHugh and Simon Dedalus are listening to Ned
Lambert, who is mocking Dan Dawson’s overwrought patriotic speech,
reprinted in the morning newspaper. J.J. O’Molloy enters and the doorknob bumps Bloom. Bloom remembers O’Molloy’s past as a promising
lawyer—O’Molloy now has money troubles.
Lambert continues to mock Dawson’s speech—Bloom agrees with
the criticism but reminds himself that such speeches are well-received in
person. Crawford enters, greeting MacHugh with mock disgust. Dedalus and Lambert leave for a drink. Bloom uses Crawford’s telephone to
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call Keyes. Lenehan enters with the sports edition and proclaims that
Sceptre will win today’s horserace. We hear Bloom on the phone—he
seems to have missed Keyes at his office. Re-entering the room, Bloom
bumps into Lenehan. Bloom tells Crawford that he is headed out to settle the Keyes ad—Crawford could not care less. A minute later,
MacHugh notices from the window that the newsboys are following
Bloom, mimicking his jerky walk. Lenehan imitates it too.
O’Molloy offers MacHugh a cigarette. Lenehan lights their cigarettes, waiting to be offered one. Crawford jokes with MacHugh, a
Latin professor, about the Roman Empire. Lenehan tries to tell a riddle,
but no one listens.
O’Madden Burke enters with Stephen Dedalus behind him. Stephen
hands Deasy’s letter to Crawford. Crawford knows Deasy and comments on Deasy’s ornery late wife, which helps Stephen understand
Deasy’s view that women are responsible for the sin of the world.
Crawford skims Deasy’s letter and agrees to publish it. MacHugh is
arguing that the Greeks and the Irish are similar because they are dominated by other cultures (Roman and British, respectively) yet retain a
spirituality that those cultures do not have. Lenehan finally tells his
riddle. Crawford comments on the gathering of many talents in the
room (literature, law, etc.). MacHugh remarks that Bloom would represent the art of advertising, and O’Madden Burke adds that Mrs.
Bloom would add vocal talent. Lenehan makes a suggestive comment
about Molly.
Crawford asks Stephen to write something sharp for the paper.
Crawford recalls the great talent of Ignatius Gallaher, who reported on
the 1882 Phoenix Park murders (the British chief secretary and undersecretary were killed). This recollection sparks many individual stories
about the murders and the Invincibles, the group who claimed responsibility. Some of them were hanged, but others remain alive, such as
Skin-the-Goat, a character who will appear later in Ulysses. Meanwhile, MacHugh answers the telephone. It is Bloom, but Crawford is
too preoccupied with the conversation to speak with him.
O’Molloy tells Stephen that he and Professor Magennis were speaking of Stephen. They are curious about Stephen’s opinion of A.E., the
mystical poet. Stephen resists the urge to ask what Magennis said about
him. MacHugh interrupts to describe the finest example of eloquence—
John F. Taylor’s speech at the Trinity College historical society debate
over the revival of the Irish tongue. MacHugh re-enacts the speech,
which equated the British, who threaten to culturally overwhelm the
Irish, to the Egyptians, who threaten to completely assimilate the Jews.
Stephen suggests they adjourn to a pub, and Lenehan leads the way.
O’Molloy holds Crawford behind to ask him for a loan. Stephen walks
outside with Professor MacHugh and tells MacHugh a cryptic parable
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of two old virgins who go to the top of Nelson’s pillar to see the views of
Dublin and eat plums.
While Stephen tells his story, Crawford finally emerges outside and
Bloom, on his way in, attempts to accost him on the front steps. Bloom
wants approval for two month’s renewal of the Keyes ad instead of
three. Crawford turns this offer down flippantly and returns to his conversation with O’Molloy. He cannot lend O’Molloy any money.
Ahead, Stephen’s story continues: the women, giddy at the top of the
pillar, eat their plums and spit the seeds over the side. Stephen laughs—
the story is apparently over, but the listeners are confused. Stephen
names his story “A Pisgah Sight of Palestine” or “The Parable of the
Plums.” MacHugh laughs knowingly. Meanwhile, the trams and other
vehicles all across the city continue to roll.
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Episode Seven, “Aeolus,” is the first episode in which the text seems
conscious of itself as a text. The newspaper-like headlines break up the
otherwise-familiar text and suggest to the reader that an outside editor,
author, or arranger is responsible for them. We are no longer involved
in a one-on-one relation with the plot of Ulysses—someone is filtering
this information for us.
The episode parallels the aftermath of Odysseus’s visit to Aeolus, the
god of the winds in the Odyssey. One of Odysseus’s men disobeys him,
opening a bag of winds that then blows them off-course. In the “Aeolus” episode of Ulysses, wind is represented by the windy rhetoric used
in journalism and oratory. The newspaper-room setting of the chapter,
the episode’s headlines, and the men’s own inflated speech, together
with the conversation about rhetorical and journalistic triumphs, all
support the theme of the episode. Additionally, within the headlines
and within the general text of the episode, over sixty different rhetorical
figures (such as hyperbole, metonymy, chiasmus) are demonstrated.
Episode Seven also recalls one of Joyce’s earlier works—the shortstory collection, Dubliners. Several Dubliners characters appear here
(Lenehan, Ignatius Gallaher), and the sense of futility and paralysis of
Dubliners filters into this episode depicting mid-day idleness, disappointment, and frustration. Just as Odysseus’s ship was blown offcourse by the winds released from the bag, several characters are
thwarted in their individual quests. Bloom does not get the Keyes ad in
the paper, O’Molloy does not get a loan from Crawford, Stephen never
makes it to meet Buck at the Ship pub at noon. If rhetoric is a means for
making arguments and convincing listeners, it gets short shrift here.
Few comprehensive connections are made in this episode—points and
arguments trail off or are swallowed in the noise of the newspaper
Bloom walks past a candy store. A man hands Bloom a throw-away flyer,
advertising a visiting American evangelist. Bloom at first thinks his own
name is on the flyer but then realizes it reads, “Blood of the Lamb.”
Bloom passes Dilly Dedalus. Bloom pities the now motherless Dedaluses. Dilly looks thin, and Bloom thinks about the inhumanity of the
Catholic Church, which forces parents to have more children than they
can feed. Bloom walks over O’Connell bridge and tosses the throwaway over the side. He buys two Banbury cakes to feed the seagulls. He
notices an advertisement on a rowboat in the harbor. He thinks about
other effective places for ads, like placing a doctor’s flyer about sexully
transmitted diseases in a bathroom. Bloom suddenly wonders if Boylan
has an STD.
Bloom thinks of an astronomy concept that he never fully understood—“parallax.” Bloom remembers this morning’s “metempsychosis” conversation. A line of men wearing advertising sandwich boards
for Wisdom Hely’s walk by. When Bloom worked at Hely’s, his
employers rejected his advertising idea of having women inside a transparent cart writing on Hely’s stationary. Bloom tries to remember
where he and Molly were living at that time.
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pressrooms. Instead, language works to obscure and divide: inside
jokes, cryptic remarks, and stage-whispered comments abound.
Episode Seven is the first episode in which Stephen and Bloom actually cross paths (at the very end of the episode). Notably, Stephen ignores
Bloom, while Bloom, father-like, notes Stephen’s newer boots and, with
disapproval, that Stephen has muck on his shoes and is leading the way
to the pub. Bloom’s and Stephen’s separate but equal time in the episode
invites comparison between their appearances in the Freeman offices.
Bloom fails in his task of securing the Keyes ad for three months, while
Stephen succeeds in getting Deasy’s letter printed. Stephen has the center
of the room, physically and symbolically, while Bloom remains unseen
on the outskirts, bumped more than once. Bloom is jokingly referred to
as a representative for the art of advertising, while Stephen is treated like
a near-equal by the men and is even offered the chance to write for the
paper. We also notice the two men’s differing approaches to the domain
of public expression. Bloom, as we have seen, has a pragmatic approach
to the art of writing, oratory, and advertising. In Episode Four, we saw
him consider writing fiction himself, in part to make money by it.
Stephen, though flattered by the newspapermen’s high expectations for
him, will not waste himself on their type of writing—he will remain
focused on his art, his poetry.
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Bloom runs into Josie Breen, whom he once courted. She is now married to Denis Breen, who is mentally off-balance. Mr. Breen received an
anonymous postcard this morning, which cryptically read, “u.p.: up.”
Today, he is trying to take legal action against the joke. Bloom inquires
after a mutual friend, Mina Purefoy, who has been in labor at the maternity hospital for three days. As Bloom and Mrs. Breen talk, another
Dublin crazy man sashays by—Cashel Boyle O’Connor Fitzmaurice
Tisdall Farrell.
Bloom continues on, past the Irish Times office—he remembers the
newspaper ad he ran for a lady typist that attracted Martha. He had
another application—Lizzie Twigg—but she offered A.E. as a reference
and thus seemed too literary, possibly ugly. His thoughts switch to
Mina Purefoy and her perpetual pregnancies.
Passing a group of policemen, Bloom remembers watching a
mounted policemen chase down a group of medical students who were
shouting anti-British sentiments. Bloom guesses those medical students
are probably now part of the institutions they were criticizing. He
thinks about other turncoats—Carey of the Invincibles and house servants who inform on their employers.
A cloud blocks the sun, and Bloom thinks gloomily that the cycles of
life—Dignam’s death, Mrs. Purefoy’s birthing—are meaningless. A.E.
and a young, sloppily dressed woman, possibly Lizzie Twigg herself,
pass Bloom.
Passing an optician’s shop, Bloom thinks again about parallax and
eclipses. He experimentally holds up his little finger to blot out the sun.
He remembers the night that he and Molly walked with Boylan under
the moon—he wonders if Molly and Boylan were touching. Bloom
passes Bob Doran, clearly on his annual drinking bender. Bloom thinks
about how men rely on alcohol for social interaction.
Overwhelmed by hunger, Bloom enters the Burton restaurant. Bloom
is immediately disgusted by the spectacle of many ill-mannered men eating. He leaves and heads toward Davy Byrne’s for a light snack instead.
Bloom enters Davy Byrne’s, and Nosey Flynn greets him from the
corner. Flynn asks about Molly and her upcoming singing tour. Flynn
mentions Boylan, and Bloom is unpleasantly reminded of Boylan’s
impending visit to Molly. Flynn discusses the Gold Cup horserace.
Bloom eats and is silently critical of Flynn.
Bloom looks above the bar at the tins of food. He ruminates about
food: odd types, poisonous berries, aphrodisiacs, quirky personal
favorites. Bloom notices two flies stuck on the window pane. He
warmly remembers an intimate moment with Molly on the hill on
Howth: as Bloom lay on top of her, Molly fed him seedcake out of her
mouth, and they made love. Looking back at the flies, Bloom thinks
sadly of the disparity between himself then and now.
Staring at the pleasing wood bar, Bloom contemplates beauty. He
equates beauty with untouchable goddesses, such as the statues in the
National Museum. He wonders if there’s anything under the statues’
robes and vows to sneak a look later today. Bloom finishes his wine and
heads to the outhouse.
Davy Byrne is curious about Bloom. Flynn begins gossiping: he
reports on Bloom’s career, his participation in the Freemasons, how
rarely he is drunk, and his refusal to sign his name to any contracts.
Paddy Leonard, Bantam Lyons, and Tom Rochford enter and order
drinks. They discuss Lyons’s Gold Cup race bet. Bloom walks back
through the bar and out. Lyons whispers that Bloom gave him the tip.
Out on the street, Bloom remembers to head toward the National
Library to look up the Keyes ad. Bloom escorts a blind man across an
intersection. Bloom thinks of how the other senses of blind people are
heightened, like touch. He wonders what it would be like to be blind.
Bloom suddenly spots Boylan across the street. Panicked, he ducks
into the gates of the National Museum.
Bloom is primarily alone in Episode Eight, “Lestrygonians.” He does
not have any errands to run yet; he is merely strolling the city street and
looking for lunch. In Episode Four, we were first introduced to Bloom
as a preparer and eater of food, and, most notably in the opening lines,
a meat lover. Yet, now, outside his own home, the prospect of getting
and eating food is more overwhelming and problematic. Episode Eight
corresponds to Odysseus’s visit to the island of cannibals in the Odyssey. Under this thematic menace, the meat-loving Bloom opts not to eat
at the Burton, where men shove meat into their mouths, and heads
instead to Davy Byrne’s for a vegetarian lunch.
The episode opens outside a candy shop, and food pervades Bloom’s
thoughts and serves as a tie-in with many other disparate topics.
Thoughts of food connect with thoughts of pregnant women, from
Molly’s hunger for certain foods while pregnant to Mina Purefoy, currently in labor with many other mouths to feed at home. Food connects
with sex, in Bloom’s memory of making love with Molly years ago on a
hill as she fed him a seedcake out of her mouth, and in his thoughts of
aphrodisiacal food. Food connects with politics as Bloom thinks of the
lavish dinners used to make political converts and of the horror of eating
in a communal society. Food connects with creativity as Bloom wonders
if what A.E. and other poets eat effects their poetry. Finally, food ties into
Bloom’s conception of types of “home.” Bloom repeats to himself the
Plumtree’s ad he saw this morning in Episode Six (“What is a home without Plumtree’s potted meat? Incomplete. With it an abode of bliss.”),
thus connecting this sinister-sounding meat product with marital bliss.
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Finally, food connects with religious sacrifice. Religious sacrifice is
connected to Bloom being cast as a Christ figure in the first lines of the
episode, in which Bloom mistakenly reads his own name in the words
blood of the lamb on an evangelist throwaway. Through a chain of further associations, Bloom is presented as a Christ-like martyr. His
humanitarian acts that frame Episode Eight reinforce this alignment—
Bloom produces Banbury cakes to feed thankless seagulls, and he helps
a blind man across an intersection. If Bloom is set up as the sacrifice in
this cannibalistic chapter, we might say that he is sacrificed to other
Dublin men. Beyond the menacing eaters of the Burton, the men at
Davy Byrne’s—first Nosey Flynn, then Bantam Lyons and company—
exercise power over Bloom. Their gossipy dialogue eats up the narrative
of Bloom’s inner consciousness as he goes to the outhouse. Instead of
following Bloom’s thoughts, we are suddenly presented with others’
thoughts about Bloom, many of which are fallacious.
Episode Eight contains Bloom’s thoughts of the word parallax.
Bloom has problems understanding this word, as Molly had problems
with metempsychosis this morning. Parallax is an astronomical term
that roughly refers to the way in which an object seems to be positioned
differently when viewed from a different vantage point. Though Bloom
does not quite understand this concept, it will continue to appear, and it
offers a key to one of the ways in which Ulysses works. As the novel continues, our thoughts and opinions about events and people will become
continually revised as we hear about the same events and people from a
different character—thus Ulysses features three main characters instead
of only one.
“S C Y L L A A N D C H A R Y B D I S ”
In the National Library director’s office, sometime after 1:00 p.m.,
Stephen casually presents his “Hamlet theory” to John Eglinton, a critic
and essayist; A.E., a poet; and Lyster, a librarian and Quaker. Stephen
contends that Shakespeare associated himself with Hamlet’s father, not
with Hamlet himself. When the episode opens, Stephen is impatient
with the older men’s repetition of unoriginal, received wisdom on
Shakespeare. John Eglinton puts Stephen in his place by mockingly
inquiring about his own literary accomplishments or lack thereof. From
the corner, A.E. expresses disdain for Stephen’s Hamlet theory, maintaining that biographical criticism is useless because one should focus
only on the depth expressed by the art. Stephen responds to Eglinton’s
mockery of his youth, pointing out that Aristotle was once Plato’s pupil.
Stephen shows off his knowledge of the philosophers’ work.
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Mr. Best, the librarian, enters—he has been showing Douglas Hyde’s
Lovesongs of Connacht to Haines. A.E. expresses his preference for
Hyde’s pastoral poems. Stephen continues with his theory by sketching
a scene from Shakespeare’s London: Shakespeare walks along the river
to his own performance of Hamlet where he plays not Hamlet but the
ghost of Hamlet’s father. Stephen contends that Hamlet thus corresponds to Shakespeare’s dead son, Hamnet, and unfaithful Gertrude
represents Shakespeare’s adulterous wife, Ann Hathaway. A.E. reiterates that a critic should focus on the work itself, not the details of the
poet’s personal life, such as his drinking habits or his debts. Stephen
recalls that he himself owes A.E. some money.
Eglinton argues that Ann Hathaway is historically unimportant,
and he cites biographers who depict Shakespeare’s early marriage to
Ann Hathaway as a mistake—a mistake he rectified by going to London. Stephen counters that geniuses make no mistakes. Lyster reenters the room. Stephen, drawing on the plots and imagery of the
early plays, demonstrates that the older Ann seduced young Shakespeare in Stratford.
A.E. gets up to leave—he is expected elsewhere. Eglinton inquires if
he will be at Moore’s (an Irish novelist) tonight—Buck and Haines will
be there. Lyster mentions that A.E. is compiling a volume of the work of
young Irish poets. Someone suggests that Moore is the man to write the
Irish epic. Stephen is resentful not to be included in the poetry collection, nor in their social circle. He vows to remember the snub. Stephen
thanks A.E. for taking a copy of Deasy’s letter for publication.
Eglinton returns to the argument: he believes that Shakespeare is
Hamlet himself, as Hamlet is such a personal character. Stephen
argues that Shakespeare’s genius was such that he could give life to
many characters. Still focusing on Ann Hathaway’s adultery, Stephen
points out that Shakespeare’s middle plays are dark tragedies. His
later, lighter plays testify (through their young female characters) to
the arrival of Shakespeare’s granddaughter, who reconciled the rift
with the grandmother.
Stephen makes another point: the ghost of Hamlet’s father inexplicably knows the means of his own murder and of his wife’s betrayal.
Shakespeare has granted him this extraneous knowledge because the
character is part of Shakespeare himself. Buck, who has been standing
in the doorway, mockingly applauds Stephen. Buck approaches
Stephen and produces a cryptic telegram that Stephen sent to him at the
Ship instead of showing up himself. Buck playfully chides Stephen for
standing him and Haines up.
A library attendant comes to the door and summons Lyster to help a
patron (Bloom) find the Kilkenny People. Buck recognizes Bloom
standing in the hall and explains that he just saw Bloom in the National
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Museum eyeing the rear end of a goddess statue. Implying that Bloom is
a homosexual, Buck teasingly warns Stephen to beware of Bloom.
Stephen continues: while Shakespeare was in London living the high
life with many sexual partners, Ann cheated on him back in Stratford—
this hypothesis would explain why there is no other mention of her in the
plays. Shakespeare’s will pointedly left her only his “second-best bed.”
Eglinton suggests that Shakespeare’s father corresponds to the ghost
of Hamlet’s father. Stephen forcefully denies this supposition, insisting
that the ghost of Hamlet’s father is not Shakespeare’s father, but
Shakespeare himself, who was old and greying at the time the play was
written. Fathers, Stephen digresses, are inconsequential. Paternity is
unprovable and therefore insubstantial—fathers are linked to their children only by a brief sexual act.
Stephen goes on to suggest that Ann cheated on Shakespeare with his
brothers, Edmund and Richard, whose names appear in Shakespeare’s
plays as adulterous or usurping brothers. Eglinton asks Stephen if he
believes his own theory, and Stephen says no. Eglinton asks why he
should expect payment for it if he does not believe it.
Buck tells Stephen it is time for a drink and they leave. Buck makes
fun of Eglinton, a lonely bachelor. Buck reads aloud a play he was scribbling while Stephen argued—it is a farce, entitled Everyman His Own
Wife or A Honeymoon in the Hand. As they walk out the front door,
Stephen senses someone behind him—it is Bloom. Stephen steps away
from Buck, and Bloom passes between them down the steps. Whispering, Buck again alludes jokingly to Bloom’s lusty homosexuality.
Stephen walks down the steps, feeling spent.
In Episode Nine of Ulysses, we meet up again with Stephen, whom we
last saw headed to a pub with the men from the Freeman office. He
never met Haines and Buck at the Ship pub at 12:30, as they had
arranged this morning. Instead, Stephen has wound up here, at the
National Library, performing his “Hamlet theory.” Stephen is trying to
interest Eglinton and A.E. in publishing the theory, and in his own talent in general. Stephen’s presentation is hardly formal—it rather takes
the shape of a discussion between men-of-letters. There are frequent
interruptions and digressions, and Stephen often ad-libs, using thoughts
or the words of others from earlier in the day.
Episode Nine corresponds to Odysseus’s trial-by-sea in which he
must sail between Scylla, the six-headed monster situated on a rock, and
Charybdis, a deadly whirlpool. The concept of negotiating two
extremes plays out several times within the episode, most notably in the
Plato-Aristotle dichotomy that Stephen mentions. Like Odysseus,
Stephen sails closer to Scylla, and thus Stephen’s thoughts and theories
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owe more to Aristotle’s grounded, material, logical sense of the world
(symbolized by the rock) than to Plato’s sense of unembodied concepts
or ideals (symbolized by the whirlpool).
This alignment explains why Stephen grounds Shakespeare’s work
in the lived reality of Shakespeare’s life, whereas A.E. separates the man
from the eternal ideas expressed in his work. Like Odysseus, Stephen
cannot sail too close to Scylla’s rock, though, and the threat of extreme
materialism is represented by Buck and his physically based humor.
Stephen also has to negotiate between his desire for acceptance from literary men such as Eglinton and A.E. and his disdain for such men and
their movement, the Irish Literary Revival. Stephen is scornful of A.E.’s
mysticism and Eglinton’s superiority, but he is also bitterly sad at not
being considered for A.E.’s compilation of young Irish poets or for the
gathering at Moore’s house.
Part of the reason that Eglinton and the others seem resistant to
Stephen’s Hamlet theory is that the theory is less a traditional piece of
literary-critical investigation than an imaginative performance of one
poet understanding another poet. We have seen Stephen, in the first
three episodes of Ulysses, struggling with the circumstances of his own
life and history and trying to understand how he can either incorporate
them or overcome them to create art. Stephen’s theory of Hamlet shows
that Shakespeare often wrote his life and times into his work (the culmination being Hamlet as an expression of his bitterness at his wife’s infidelity) and thus presents examples of how masterpieces can still be tied
to the realities of lived experience.
Stephen’s meditations on paternity take on a particular urgency in
Episode Nine. Stephen envisions ideal paternity as literary creation—he
argues that Shakespeare is not merely father to his son Hamnet but to all
humanity. Stephen’s further arguments about the tenuosity of the
father-son relationship and the insignificance of fathers relates to his
own experience of alienation from his father. Much of Stephen’s Hamlet
theory seems to develop out of his own life, and we see Stephen thinking
about parallel personal matters—his mother, his sexuality, and so on—
while he argues about Shakespeare’s life and work.
The cameo appearances of Bloom in this episode remind us of the
sonless Bloom’s suitability as a replacement father figure for Stephen.
The schematics of the chapter reinforce this sense. Though Stephen
himself seems to be the Odysseus figure for a time in the “Scylla and
Charybdis” episode, in the schematic of Shakespeare, Bloom seems to
be the father figure (Shakespeare) and Stephen, the son (Hamlet).
Bloom is aligned with Shakespeare through their similarly unfaithful
wives and dead sons, Hamnet and Rudy, respectively. As Shakespeare
writes the drama of his wife into his art, so did we see Bloom consider
writing a story based on Molly at the end of Episode Four.
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“T H E W A N D E R I N G R O C K S ”
s ummary & analys i s
Episode Ten consists of nineteen short views of characters, major and
minor, as they make their way around Dublin in the afternoon. Within
each subsection, short, disjunctive paragraphs pop up that depict a
simultaneous action in some other part of the city. These are not rendered below.
Father John Conmee travels from his Dublin presbytery to a suburban school to try to get Patrick Dignam’s son admitted for free. Conmee walks to the tram station, passing a one-legged sailor, three
schoolboys, and others on the way. Conmee gets on an outbound
tram, notices a poster of Eugene Stratton, a blackface minstrel, and
thinks about missionary work. Conmee gets off at Howth road, takes
out his breviary (book of prayers), and reads to himself as he walks. In
front of him, a young couple guiltily emerges from the hedgerow. Conmee blesses them.
Corny Kelleher examines a coffinlid, then gossips with a policeman.
The one-legged sailor crutches up Eccles street, singing a patriotic
English song and asking for alms. He passes Katey and Boody Dedalus.
A woman’s arm (Molly’s) throws a coin out of a window for the sailor.
Katey and Boody Dedalus enter their kitchen, where their sister
Maggy is washing clothes. The Dedalus sisters discuss the household’s
lack of money and food—Sister Mary Patrick has donated some pea
soup to them. Maggy explains that Dilly has gone to see their father,
Simon Dedalus.
The throwaway that Bloom threw into the river in Episode Eight
floats down river.
A shopgirl arranges a basket of food for Blazes Boylan. Boylan writes
the delivery address and looks down the girl’s shirt. He takes a red
flower for his lapel and asks to use her telephone.
Stephen meets his voice teacher, Almidano Artifoni, in the street outside Trinity College. Artifoni tries to persuade Stephen to pursue a music
career in Dublin. Stephen is flattered. Artifoni runs to catch a tram.
Miss Dunne, Blazes Boylan’s secretary, puts away the novel she is
reading. She daydreams about going out tonight. Boylan calls. Miss
Dunne tells Boylan that Lenehan will be at the Ormond Hotel at
four o’clock.
Ned Lambert meets with J.J. O’Molloy and the reverend Hugh C.
Love to show the reverend around Saint Mary’s Abbey (now Lambert’s
warehouse). Lambert discusses the history of the abbey with Love, who
is writing a history book. Lambert and O’Molloy discuss O’Molloy’s
money troubles.
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Tom Rochford shows his invention, a mechanism to keep track
of betting races, to Nosey Flynn, McCoy, and Lenehan. Lenehan
promises to speak to Boylan this afternoon about Rochford’s
invention. McCoy and Lenehan leave together. Lenehan ducks into a
betting office to check on the price for Sceptre, his pick for the Gold
Cup race. Lenehan re-emerges and reports to McCoy that Bantam
Lyons is inside betting on a long-shot horse (the horse Lyons thinks
Bloom tipped him to in Episode Five). The men spot Bloom looking
through a book merchant’s cart nearby. Lenehan claims to have
groped a willing Molly. McCoy sticks up for Bloom, who he thinks
has an artistic side.
Bloom looks through the books at a bookseller’s cart and settles on
Sweets of Sin for Molly.
At Dillon’s auction rooms, the lacquey rings the bell. Dilly Dedalus
waits outside for her father. Simon emerges and Dilly asks him for
money. He hands over a shilling he borrowed from Jack Power. Dilly
suspects he has more money, but Simon walks away from her.
The viceregal cavalcade has begun its cross-town journey.
Tom Kernan passes the spot where the patriot Robert Emmet was
hanged, and thinks of Ben Dollard singing “The Croppy Boy.” Kernan
spots the viceregal cavalcade, but waves too late.
Stephen looks at jewels in a shop window, then browses a bookseller’s cart. His sister Dilly approaches him and asks Stephen if a French
primer that she just bought is good. Stephen considers Dilly, who has his
eyes and his quick mind but who is caught in the desperate situation at
their family home. Stephen is caught between an impulse to save Dilly
and the others and an impulse to escape from them completely.
Bob Cowley greets Simon Dedalus and they discuss Cowley’s debt to
Reuben J. Dodd, the moneylender. Ben Dollard arrives with advice
about Cowley’s debt.
Martin Cunningham, along with Jack Power and John Wyse Nolan,
conducts a collection for the Dignam children. Nolan ironically notes
Bloom’s generous five-shilling donation. Cunningham, Power, and
Nolan meet up with John Henry, the assistant town clerk, and John
Fanning, the subsheriff. The viceregal cavalcade passes them.
Buck Mulligan and Haines sit in a coffeeshop, where Parnell’s
brother is playing chess in the corner. Haines and Mulligan discuss
Stephen—Haines thinks Stephen is mentally off-balance. Mulligan
agrees that Stephen will never turn out to be a true poet, because he has
been damaged by Catholic visions of hell.
Tisdall Farrell walks behind Almidano Artifoni in a zigzag and collides with the blind man that Bloom helped at the end of Episode Eight.
Dignam’s son, Patrick junior, walks homeward carrying porksteaks.
He passes other schoolboys and wonders if they know of his father’s
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death. He thinks of his father’s coffin being carried out and the last time
he saw his father, who was drunk and going out to the pub.
The progress of the viceregal cavalcade (containing William Humble, Earl of Dudley and Lady Dudley, among others) is tracked, from
the viceregal lodge in Phoenix park to the Mirus bazaar. It passes many
of the people we have seen so far in the chapter. Most of them notice,
and some salute the cavalcade.
s ummary & analys i s
Episode Ten, “The Wandering Rocks,” serves as an interlude between
the first and last nine episodes. The technique of the episode is somewhat filmic. The episode as a whole renders the sense of a wide view of
the entire city of Dublin, with figures moving throughout, while the
nineteen subsections, and the cut-aways within them, function as
quickly changing close-ups. Accordingly, much of the episode is
focused on exteriors—appearances and movements. Few characters are
granted more than a line or two of interior monologue. The “Wandering Rocks” of The Odyssey were apparently boulders that shifted position in the mist and could capsize a ship (Odysseus never actually sailed
through them). Joyce’s “Wandering Rocks” in Episode Ten are represented by textual traps for the reader. The most common type of trap is
the one- or two-line interpolations that suddenly describe action happening elsewhere. These textual traps make the narrator seem particularly masterful or obtuse.
The episode is framed on each end by an extended progression—
Father Conmee’s trip to a suburban school at the beginning, and the
viceregal cavalcade’s progress from Phoenix Park to the Mirus bazaar
at the end. Both are on altruistic errands—Conmee is trying to get Dignam’s son into Jesuit school for free, and the Earl of Dudley is presiding over the Mirus charity bazaar to benefit Mercer’s Hospital.
Individually, they represent the power of religious and governmental
We get a closer view of Stephen’s family in this episode. Stephen is
not currently sleeping at home, where his sisters, Maggy, Katey, Boody,
and Dilly, struggle to provide subsistence for themselves and the rest of
the family since their mother has died. Stephen’s run-in with Dilly at the
bookseller’s stall shows Stephen experiencing remorse about his family,
especially because Dilly shows a spark of intellect similar to his own.
Yet he has just received a paycheck today, and it has been and will be
spent on drink, like his father’s money. Stephen refuses to succumb to
his conscience and be dragged back into the despair of his family’s poverty and misery.
Bloom and Stephen, though they do not meet, are further aligned in
this episode. We see both men browsing a bookseller’s cart (both, inter-
estingly, look at books about sex). Both men do not see the viceregal
cavalcade at the end, though most of the other characters do. We see
other characters gossiping about Stephen and Bloom, specifically referencing their artistic sensibilities. McCoy tells Lenehan that Bloom has a
refined, artistic side, while Buck tells Haines that, though he will never
be a poet, Stephen will write something in ten years. This schematic
alignment of Stephen and Bloom prepares us for their climactic meeting
to come and prepares us to see their “relationship” as potentially something other than father-son.
s ummary & analys i s
Episode Eleven begins with a jumbled prelude of phrases—fragments, it
turns out, of the text to come. Episode Eleven also uses a technique
simlar to Episode Ten, whereby sections of text that describe events
happening in another location interrupt the narrative at hand.
The Ormond Hotel barmaids, Lydia Douce and Mina Kennedy,
strain to see the viceregal cavalcade out the window, then gossip and giggle over their tea. Meanwhile, Bloom is walking past shop windows
Simon Dedalus enters the Ormond bar, followed by Lenehan, looking for Boylan. The barmaids serve them drinks and discuss the blind
piano tuner who tuned the Ormond piano earlier today. Dedalus tests
out the piano in the saloon. Boylan arrives and flirts with Miss Kennedy
while he and Lenehan await the wire results of the Gold Cup race.
In the meantime, while buying notepaper to write to Martha, Bloom
has noticed Boylan’s jaunty car on Essex Bridge. Mindful of Boylan’s
fast-approaching four o’clock rendezvous with Molly, Bloom decides
to follow the car to the Ormond Hotel. Outside the hotel, Bloom runs
into Richie Goulding and agrees to have dinner with him inside—
Bloom plans to survey Boylan. They sit down in the dining room.
Boylan and Lenehan, leaving, pass Bob Cowley and Ben Dollard on
their way in. In the dining room, Pat the waiter takes Goulding’s and
Bloom’s drink orders. Bloom hears the jingle of Boylan’s car pulling
away and nearly sobs with anxiety. In the saloon, Dedalus and Dollard
reminisce about past vocal concerts and the time Dollard had to borrow
evening clothes from the Blooms’ second-hand clothing shop for a performance. The men discuss Molly appreciatively. In the dining room,
Bloom, too, is thinking about Molly, as Pat serves dinner.
Interspersed with these passages are the jingle of Boylan’s car and
updates on its progress toward the Blooms’.
Ben Dollard sings “Love and War,” and Bloom recognizes it from
the dining room. He thinks of the night that Dollard borrowed evening
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wear from Molly’s shop. In the saloon, Dedalus is encouraged to sing
“M’appari,” the tenor’s song from Martha.
Goulding reminisces about opera performances. Bloom thinks sympathetically about Goulding’s chronic back pain and unsympathetically about Goulding’s tendency to lie. In the saloon, Dedalus begins
to sing “M’appari.” Goulding recognizes Dedalus singing. Bloom
thinks of Dedalus’s vocal talent, wasted by drinking. Bloom realizes
the song is from Martha—a coincidence, as he was just about to write
to Martha Clifford. Touched by the music, Bloom reminisces about
his first fateful meeting with Molly. The song ends to applause. Tom
Kernan enters the bar.
Bloom muses on the Dedalus-Goulding falling-out. Ruminating on
the melancholy lyrics of “M’appari,” Bloom thinks about death and
Dignam’s funeral this morning. Bloom thinks to himself about the
mathematics of music, and how Milly has no taste in music.
Bloom begins writing a letter to Martha. He covers the page with his
newspaper and tells Goulding he is answering an advertisement. Bloom
writes flirtatious lines and encloses a half-crown. Bloom feels bored
with the correspondence.
A recurring “tap” begins here—it is the tap of the blind piano tuner’s
walking stick. He is returning to retrieve his tuning fork.
Bloom watches Miss Douce flirt at the bar. Cowley plays the minuet
of Don Giovanni. Bloom thinks about the omnipresence of music in the
world, women’s singing voices, and the eroticism of acoustic music. He
imagines that Boylan is just arriving to meet Molly. Indeed, Boylan is
now knocking on the Blooms’ door.
Tom Kernan requests “The Croppy Boy” (a nationalist song about a
young member of the 1798 rebellion tricked and hanged by a British
man disguised as his confession priest). Bloom prepares to leave—Goulding is disappointed. All are quiet for the song. Bloom watches Miss
Douce and wonders if she notices him looking at her. Bloom hears the
line about the Croppy Boy being the last of his race and thinks about his
own stunted family line.
Bloom continues watching Miss Douce, who is running her hand
around the phallic beer-pull. Bloom finally rouses himself. He bids
Goulding goodbye, checks his belongings, and dodges out to the hallway before cheers erupt at the end of the song.
Bloom walks toward the post office, feeling gassy from the cider. He
regrets making a five o’clock appointment to meet Cunningham about
the Dignams’ insurance. Bloom thinks skeptically that the Croppy Boy
should have noticed that the priest was a British soldier in disguise.
Back at the Ormond, someone mentions to Dedalus that Bloom was
there and just left—they discuss Bloom and Molly’s vocal talent. The
blind piano tuner finally arrives to retrieve his tuning fork.
Bloom spots Bridie Kelly, a local prostitute with whom he once had
an encounter. He avoids her by looking in a shop window at a picture
of Irish patriot Robert Emmet and his famous last words. Bloom reads
the speech to himself, while farting under the cover of a noisily
approaching tram.
s ummary & analys i s
In the Odyssey, Odysseus orders his men to tie him to the mast of his
ship and to plug their own ears so that they will not succumb to the
beautiful song of the sirens and be diverted to their deaths. Odysseus
chooses to be bound and to keep his ears unplugged because he cannot
bear the idea of not hearing the sirens’ music. Episode Eleven of Ulysses
accordingly focuses on music. The episode takes place around four
o’clock and onward in the afternoon, at the Ormond bar-restaurant
where Simon Dedalus, Ben Dollard, and Bob Cowley entertain the
small afternoon dinner crowd with opera love songs and a nationalist
ballad. The narrative style reinforces the focus on music. The opening
section of disjunctive phrases work as a sort of musical overture or
warm-up. The interspersed “jingle” of Boylan’s car, combined with the
recurring “tap” sound of the blind piano tuner’s cane, provide a sort of
underlying rhythm section to the episode proper.
The sirens themselves are in part represented by the beautiful, flirtatious barmaids. Bloom is enticed by their charms, especially toward the
end of the episode, when he stays longer than intended, watching Miss
Douce. The sirens are also represented, though, by Simon Dedalus, Ben
Dollard, and Bob Cowley in the saloon. Their renditions of longing love
songs hold the entire bar and dining area in thrall. Bloom’s mind is captivated by the emotional songs, and whenever there is a break in their
performance, Bloom longs again for the music to distract him from
thoughts of Molly and Boylan. Yet Dedalus, Dollard, and Cowley are
each past their prime and represent the descent into death. Unmarried
or widowed, they represent Bloom’s worst fears about himself as the
last of his family line. Just as Ulysses and his men escape, so does Bloom
ultimately resist the pull of the music at the end of the episode by rejecting its increasingly sentimental verses and leaving before the self-congratulatory ending of “The Croppy Boy.”
The technique of the third-person narrative changes with Episode
Eleven to become self-conscious and playful. As we began to see in Episode Ten, the narrative seems to be arranging bits of “objective” reporting to create specific meaning, as when Bloom walking is juxtaposed
with the old “fogey” that the barmaids laugh over in the opening scene
of the episode, to maliciously suggest Bloom’s unattractiveness. The narrative now calls attention to itself as one big text, with its purposeful repetition of earlier narrative phrases. The narrative makes the borders of
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disparate episodes, characters, and monologue-narrative bleed
Parts of Stephen’s interior monologue inexplicably re-emerge here in
Episode Eleven; names become a source of humor as the two men who
order tankards of beer are labeled “tankards,” and the overflowing feelings introduced by Dedalus’s song are rendered by a series of composite
names such as “Siopold.” The narrative itself is becoming increasingly
part of the plot, rather than the transparent medium that communicates
the plot. This prepares us for upcoming episodes in which the tone of
the narrative will dictate what exactly can be said and what cannot—
forcing us to analyze this interference and evaluate how the narrative
style effects our understanding of the plot.
The “Sirens” episode is generally seen to represent a turning point in
Bloom’s attitude toward Boylan and Molly’s impending affair. Bloom
coincidentally sees Boylan for the third time today. Instead of hiding, as
he has done on the previous two occasions, Bloom resolves to follow
Boylan and even to enter the Ormond hotel and watch his movements.
Though the two men do not actually have a confrontation in Episode
Eleven, the emphasis on the off-stage drama of Molly and Boylan’s rendezvous, combined with the love-and-war themed songs, lends a climactic feel to the episode.
—A nation? says Bloom. A nation is the same people
living in the same place.
(See quotations, p. 83)
An unnamed, first-person narrator describes the events of his afternoon. In addition to the first-person narration, the episode contains
over thirty passages in prose that parody—through hyperbole—Irish
mythology, legal jargon, journalism, and the Bible, among other things.
The narrator meets Joe Hynes on the street, and agrees to get a drink
at Barney Kiernan’s pub so Hynes can tell the citizen about the footand-mouth disease cattle meeting. A passage in the style of old Celtic
sagas describes the marketplace they walk past as a land of plenty.
Arriving at the pub, they greet the citizen and his dog, Garryowen. The
citizen is described at length, mock-heroically.
Alf Bergan enters, laughing at Denis Breen, who is walking by outside with his wife. Bergan tells the story of Breen’s “U.p: up” postcard
and orders a Guinness from the bartender. The beverage is lovingly
described. The citizen notices Bloom pacing outside and wonders with
hostility what he is doing—he refers to Bloom as a freemason.
Talk switches to Paddy Dignam. A seance at which Dignam’s soul
appears is described. Bob Doran (a character from Dubliners) rails
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loudly at the cruelty of God to take Dignam away. The narrator disgustedly notes that Doran is on his annual drinking binge.
Bloom enters—he is supposed to meet Martin Cunningham. Hynes
tries to buy Bloom a drink, but Bloom politely refuses. The subject of
hangings is raised, and Bloom speaks pedantically about capital punishment. The citizen dominates the conversation, recalling hanged Irish
nationalists. The narrator watches Bloom and thinks scornfully of
Molly—the narrator knows a fair amount about the Blooms, thanks to
Pisser Burke, who has a connection to them. Bloom is trying to make a
fine point about hangings, but the citizen interrupts him with narrowminded nationalistic sentiments. A passage of journalistic prose
describes the public spectacle of a martyr’s hanging.
Hynes orders another round. The narrator is bitter that Bloom will
not drink nor buy rounds. Bloom explains he is meeting Cunningham
to visit Mrs. Dignam. Bloom launches into an explanation of the
insurance complexities.
The men briefly discuss Nannetti, who is running for mayor, and the
citizen denounces Nanetti’s Italian origins. The conversation switches
to sports: Hynes alludes to the citizen’s role as a founder of the Gaelic
sports revival. Bergan mentions a recent boxing match from which Boylan profited. Bloom talks about lawn tennis while everyone else discusses Boylan. A sports journalese passage describes an Irish-English
boxing match. Bergan brings up Boylan’s and Molly’s upcoming concert tour. Bloom is distant, and the narrator guesses that Boylan is sleeping with Molly.
J.J. O’Molloy and Ned Lambert enter. Conversation switches to
Denis Breen’s madness—Bloom ponders Mrs. Breen’s suffering, but no
one else is sympathetic. The citizen, involved in a conversation about
Ireland’s troubles, begins making anti-Semitic and xenophobic remarks
while looking at Bloom. Bloom ignores him.
John Wyse Nolan and Lenehan enter. Lenehan tells the narrator
about the Gold Cup race. Throwaway, an outside horse won—Lenehan, Boylan, and Boylan’s “lady friend” lost money on Sceptre. The
citizen continues declaring the exploitation of Ireland—he longs for the
day when Ireland can respond to the wrongs England has committed
against it with force.
Bloom contends that persecution perpetuates nationalistic hatred.
Nolan and the citizen quiz Bloom about his own nationality. Bloom
claims Irish nationality by birth and Jewish allegiance. Nolan suggests
that the Jews have not properly stood up for themselves. Bloom responds
that love and life are better options than force and hatred. Bloom leaves
to go find Cunningham. The citizen ridicules Bloom’s call for love.
Lenehan tells everyone Bloom probably went to cash in on his
Throwaway bet (see Episode Five for this misunderstanding). The nar-
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rator visits the outhouse, thinking disparagingly about Bloom’s stinginess. He returns inside to find everyone gossiping about Bloom.
Cunningham, Power, and Crofton arrive. A Renaissance-style passage describes the greetings. Cunningham asks for Bloom, and the new
arrivals quickly become involved in the Bloom-gossiping. Cunningham
reveals Bloom’s Hungarian origins and original family name, Virag.
The citizen sarcastically suggests that Bloom is the new Messiah for Ireland. He jokingly suggests that Bloom’s children are not his own, then
alludes to Bloom’s femininity. Cunningham calls for charity toward
Bloom and toasts a blessing to all present. A passage describing the
blessing ceremony follows.
Bloom re-enters the pub breathlessly to find that Cunningham has
arrived. Cunningham, sensing that the room is turning belligerent,
escorts Bloom, Power, and Crofton out to their car. The citizen follows,
yelling jibes about Bloom’s Jewishness. The narrator is disgusted with
the citizen for making a scene. Bloom, held back by Power, lists off
famous Jews, including, finally, Christ. The citizen grabs a biscuit tin
and throws it after the car. A long passage provides an exaggerated
description of the impact of the tin. A biblical passage describes Bloom
as Elijah in a chariot ascending into heaven.
Episode Twelve corresponds to the adventure in which Odysseus and
his men become trapped in the cave of Cyclops, a one-eyed monster.
Cyclops seems to be represented by both the narrator and the citizen.
The narrator’s biased first-person (“I”) viewpoint renders him Cyclopslike. But it is the citizen who is the most clear representation of the belligerent, one-eyed monster. The citizen’s one-eyed quality is his particularly uncompromising, narrow-minded, and xenophobic brand of
Irish nationalism. In contrast to the citizen’s one-eyed presence, Bloom
remains distinctly two-eyed—able to consider more than one side of an
issue and to reconcile two viewpoints by compromise.
Bloom’s ability to be moderate in the face of the citizen’s excessiveness is part of what makes him a target for the men in this episode.
Bloom stands out in several ways. He does not drink, and thus refuses
the friendly economy of standing drinks and having drinks bought for
him. He repeatedly turns the easy-going bar conversation serious with
his intellectual superiority. Yet Bloom seems to have been targeted
before even entering the bar. As the episode continues, Bloom alone
stands up to the citizen’s excessive viewpoints, and Bloom’s eccentricities (and rumors about his personal affairs) become synonymous with
his Jewishness to the other men, as the atmosphere becomes increasingly anti-Semitic.
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Episode Twelve, “Cyclops,” represents the climax of all the public
chapters of Ulysses—all the tensions that have been building around
Bloom in the other social episodes come to a head. Here, also, for the
first time, we do not get any interior monologue from either Stephen or
Bloom. Instead of our usual third-person narrator, a first-person,
unnamed narrator gives a biased view of events at Barney Kiernan’s
with his own satiric commentary. In addition to the narrator’s firstperson commentaries, thirty-two interspersed passages of inflated
prose recall a variety of styles. These interpolations are unique so far in
Ulysses because they seem to change the setting of the episode—they
depart from Barney Kiernan’s to describe scenes as diverse as a court
trial, a parliamentary session, and a public hanging. They give us a sense
of what is to come in the novel, specifically the dream-like sequence of
Episode Fifteen. Though the styles and settings of the thirty-two passages differ, they are similar in their hyperbolic quality. None of the
scenes are realistic—all are exaggerated to hilarious degree, some containing lists that span more than half a page. They render their subjects
laughable, and in their affiliation with the citizen’s own inflated, excessive, unstoppable rhetoric, they render him laughable as well.
The citizen here represents a particular kind of Irish nationalism that
bases itself on an idea of racial purity. The citizen’s “us-versus-them”
logic allows him to sustain his single-minded, one-eyed personal and
national mission. The citizen is able to recognize the brutality and moral
bankruptcy underlying the British Empire, yet he cannot recognize
these same qualities in Irish society. Here, the hyperbolic passages step
in to reinforce the satire, as when prose resembling that of a newspaper’s society page describes a Dublin crowd’s glee and sentimentality at
a public hanging. Similarly, the citizen’s blindness will not allow him to
see that just as Bloom does not buy drinks for the crowd, neither does
the citizen himself. But Bloom’s refusal to stand drinks is codified as a
Jewish trait and used to mark him as different and inferior. Against this
one-eyed perspective stands the fluid symbolism of Ulysses itself, in
which Bloom figures as an Irishman, a Jew, and a Greek (Odysseus).
The symbolism of Episode Twelve increasingly uses Christian imagery to depict Bloom as a Christ-figure or an Elijah-figure, as others
seek to crucify Bloom or sacrifice him as a scapegoat. These analogies
further suggest an underdog figure victorious in the end. This representation connects with the symbolism of the Gold Cup horserace in
which Throwaway, the underdog horse that Bloom supposedly tipped
Bantam Lyons to, comes from behind to win the race against Sceptre,
the horse on which Lenehan and Boylan have bet. Because Bloom is
distanced from Sceptre, the phallic and violent connotations of the
horse’s name reinforce his position as a non-violent, effeminate, selfsacrificing outsider.
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A mawkish, clichéd, third-person narrative describes the summer
evening on Sandymount Strand, near Mary, Star of the Sea church.
Bloom stands across the beach from three girlfriends—Cissy Caffrey,
Edy Boardman, and Gerty MacDowell—and their charges: Cissy’s twin
toddler brothers and Edy’s baby brother. Cissy and Edy tend to the
babies and occasionally tease Gerty, who is sitting some distance away.
The narrative sympathetically describes Gerty as beautiful, and outlines
the commercial products she uses to maintain her looks. Gerty’s
crush—the boy who bicycles past her house—has been aloof lately.
Gerty daydreams of marriage and domestic life with a silent, strong
man. Meanwhile, Edy and Cissy deal loudly with the children’s disputes. Gerty is mortified by her friends’ unladylike obscenity, especially
in front of the gentleman (Bloom). Nearby, at the Star of the Sea church,
a men’s temperance retreat begins with a supplication to the Virgin.
The toddlers kick their ball too far. Bloom picks it up and throws it
back—the ball rolls to a stop under Gerty’s skirt. Gerty tries to kick the
ball to Cissy but misses. Gerty senses Bloom’s eyes on her and notices
his sad face. She fantasizes that he is a foreigner in mourning who needs
her comfort. Gerty displays her ankles and her hair for Bloom, knowing
she is arousing him.
Gerty wonders aloud how late it is, hoping Cissy and Edy will take
the children home. Cissy approaches Bloom and asks for the time.
Bloom’s watch has stopped. Gerty watches Bloom put his hands back in
his pockets and senses the onset of her menstrual cycle. She yearns to
know Bloom’s story—is he married? A widower? Duty-bound to a
Cissy and the others are preparing to leave when the fireworks from
the Mirus bazaar begin. They run down the strand to watch, but Gerty
remains. Gerty leans back, holding her knee in her hands, knowingly
revealing her legs, while she watches a “long Roman candle” firework
shoot high in the sky. At the climax of the episode and Gerty’s emotions
(and Bloom’s own orgasmic climax, we soon realize) the Roman candle
bursts in the air, to cries of “O! O!” on the ground.
As Gerty rises and begins to walk to the others, Bloom realizes that
she is lame in one foot. He feels shock and pity, then relief that he did
not know this when she was arousing him. Bloom ponders the sexual
appeal of abnormalities, then women’s sexual urges as heightened by
their menstrual cycles. Remembering Gerty’s two friends, he considers
the competitiveness of female friendships, like Molly’s with Josie Breen.
Bloom remembers that his watch was stopped at 4:30, and he wonders
if that is when Molly and Boylan had sex.
In Episode Thirteen of Ulysses, Gerty MacDowell corresponds to Princess Nausicaa, who, in The Odyssey, discovers Odysseus asleep on the
beach and tends to him. Gerty, associated with blue and white, also
seems to correspond to the Virgin Mary. Sounds from the nearby temperance retreat are interspersed with Gerty’s narrative, creating an ironic
parallel between Gerty and Mary: as Gerty dreams of ministering to a
husband and opens herself to Bloom’s supplicating sexual attention, so
do the men in the church appeal to the statue of the Virgin Mary for comfort and aid. Episode Thirteen is the first episode of Ulysses that centers
on a female consciousness, and it inaugurates the final sections of the
book, which are more female-centered in their characters and settings.
s ummary & analys i s
Bloom rearranges his semen-stained shirt and ponders strategies for
seducing women. Bloom wonders if Gerty noticed him masturbating—
he guesses that she did, as women are very aware. He briefly wonders if
Gerty is Martha Clifford. Bloom thinks about how soon girls become
mothers, then of Mrs. Purefoy at the nearby maternity hospital. Bloom
ponders the “magnetism” that could account for his watch stopping
when Boylan and Molly were together, perhaps the same magnetism
that draws men and women together.
Bloom smells Gerty’s perfume in the air—a cheap smell, not like
Molly’s complex scent, opoponax. Bloom smells inside his waistcoat,
wondering what a man’s smell would be. The scent of the lemon soap
reminds him that he forgot to pick up Molly’s lotion.
A “nobleman” passes Bloom. Bloom wonders about the man and
considers writing a story called “The Mystery Man on the Beach.” This
thought reminds him of the macintosh man at Dignam’s funeral. Looking at Howth lighthouse, Bloom considers the science of light and colors, then the day he and Molly spent there. Now, Boylan is with her.
Bloom feels drained. He notices that Mass seems to be over. The postman makes his nine o’clock round with a lamp. A newsboy cries the
results of the Gold Cup race.
Bloom decides to avoid going home just yet. He reconsiders the incident in Barney Kiernan’s— perhaps the citizen meant no harm. Bloom
thinks about his evening visit to Mrs. Dignam. Bloom tries to remember
his dream last night. Molly was dressed in Turkish breeches and red
Bloom picks up a stray piece of paper, then a stick. Wondering if
Gerty will return tomorrow, he begins to write her a message in the
sand—“i am a”—but stops as there is not sufficient room. He erases
the letters and throws the stick, which lands straight up in the sand. He
decides to have a short nap, and his thoughts become muddled by sleep.
Bloom dozes off as a cuckoo clock chimes in the priest’s house nearby.
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The first half of Episode Thirteen centers on Gerty’s appearance and
consciousness, and we only hear Bloom’s interior monologue in the second half of the episode. Gerty’s half consists of several barely distinct
narrative points of view and styles. The narrative is sympathetic with
Gerty, and Gerty’s consciousness slides in and out of the narrative—her
interior monologue is sometimes rendered directly. The narrative’s style
borrows from (and parodies) the prose of both moralizing, sentimental
literature and consumer-oriented women’s magazines. The style is
accordingly full of emotional clichés, effusive diction, and imprecise
descriptions. Additionally, the style of the narrative is such that
unpleasant realities and indelicate details are filtered out. Thus, Gerty’s
lame foot is only slightly alluded to, as is masturbation.
The feminine pleasantries and the focus on sentimental love in Episode Thirteen seem to be something of a response to Episode Twelve’s
masculine violence and prejudice. This hypothesis fits with the workings of Ulysses, by which previous perspectives are tempered by later
styles and character viewpoints. Thus, Bloom’s foreignness—a detriment in Episode Twelve—becomes an attractive asset for him in Episode Thirteen. Yet Episodes Twelve and Thirteen ultimately turn out to
have straightforward affinities. Excess lacking substance seems common to both, from the hyperbolic lists of Episode Twelve to the lush
expositions of Episode Thirteen. And both episodes seem to offer examples of categorical or stereotypical thinking. The citizen’s logic worked
on the seemingly straightforward basis of race and religion. Gerty’s
thoughts offer conventional ideas, while the narrative of Episode Thirteen invites us to evaluate Gerty as an entirely typical Irish girl.
Women in Episode Thirteen are defined, in part, by their perceptiveness about who is looking at them and when. Women become sexual
beings through their ability to present themselves to be looked at, and
Bloom’s erotic moments are voyeuristic. Stephen, in “Proteus,” experimented with closing his eyes and concentrating on his other senses. The
second half of Episode Thirteen reflects a shift of emphasis from the
eyes to the nose. Bloom’s thoughts hover around smells and smelling.
The distinction between the emphasis on senses in the two beach episodes seems to lie in the import of Stephen’s and Bloom’s musings—
Stephen seeks to understand how our senses order our relationship to
the physical world, while Bloom’s thoughts dwell on sight and smelling
as ordering relationships between people.
Like the other women whom Bloom has seen and fantasized about so
far in Ulysses, Gerty eventually reminds Bloom of Molly, suggesting
that Bloom’s desire for Molly is often refracted through another
woman. It is in this episode that Bloom notices for the first time that his
watch has stopped, apparently sometime between four and five
o’clock—perhaps at the exact time of Boylan and Molly’s tryst. Yet our
sympathy for Bloom’s sadness at this thought is tempered by the circumstances of the discovery—Bloom himself is conducting a tryst at
this later hour, albeit an unconsummated one.
“O X E N O F T H E S U N ”
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The narrative technique of Episode Fourteen is meant to represent the
gestation of the English language. The prose styles of many different
time periods, along with the styles of their most famous authors, are
replicated and at times parodied in chronological order.
Latinate prose, and then alliterative Anglo-Saxon, situate us at the
Holles Street maternity hospital, run by Sir Andrew Horne. Bloom
arrives at the hospital gates, having come to check on Mrs. Purefoy.
Nurse Callan, an acquaintance of Bloom’s, opens the gate and leads him
inside. Their conversation about Mrs. Purefoy, who has been in labor
for three days, is described in moralizing medieval prose. The emergence of Dixon, a medical student, from a noisy room down the hall is
described in medieval-romance style. Dixon, who once treated Bloom
for a bee sting, invites Bloom inside, where Lenehan, Crotthers,
Stephen, Punch Costello, and medical students Lynch and Madden are
boisterously gathered around a spread of sardines and beer. Dixon
pours Bloom a beer, which Bloom quietly deposits in his neighbor’s cup.
A nun comes to the door and asks for quiet.
The men discuss medical cases in which the doctor must choose
between saving the mother or the baby—Stephen discusses the religious
aspect of this question while others joke about contraception and sex.
Bloom is somber, thinking of Mrs. Purefoy and of Molly’s labor with
Rudy. Bloom considers Stephen, imagining that he is wasting time with
these men.
Stephen’s pouring of more beer and consideration of the quibbles of
Mary’s pregnancy with Jesus are described in Elizabethan prose. Punch
Costello interrupts with a bawdy song about a pregnant woman. Nurse
Quigley comes to the door and shushes them. The men’s teasing
Stephen about the piety of his youth is described in early seventeenthcentury prose. A thunderclap erupts. Bloom notices that Stephen is truly
frightened at this evidence of God’s anger, and he attempts to calm
Stephen by explaining the science of thunder.
Buck Mulligan’s meeting with Alec Bannon on the street nearby is
described in seventeenth-century diary style. Alec tells Buck about a girl
he is dating in Mullingar (Milly Bloom). The two men walk together to
the hospital on Holles street.
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The good-for-nothing characters of Lenehan and Costello are
described in the prose style of Daniel Defoe. The subject of Deasy’s letter and cattle health is broached. A long, allegorical joke ensues about
papal bulls, Henry VIII, and England’s relationship to Ireland. Buck’s
arrival is described in Addison’s and Steele’s essay style. Buck jokes
about his new occupation as a “fertiliser” for all female comers. A side
conversation between Crotthers and Bannon about Milly, and Bannon’s intent to purchase contraception in Dublin, is described in
Lawrence Sterne’s style. The men euphemistically discuss different contraceptive methods.
The eighteenth-century style of Oliver Goldsmith follows. Nurse
Callan summons Dixon: Mrs. Purefoy has borne a son. The men licentiously discuss Nurse Callan. Eighteenth-century political prose style is
used to describe Bloom’s relief at the news of Mrs. Purefoy’s baby, and
his disgust with the young men’s manner. The satirical style of Junius
queries Bloom’s hypocritically self-righteous attitude toward the medical students.
Edward Gibbon’s style is used to describe the men’s conversation
about various topics related to birth: Caesarean sections, fathers who
die before their wives give birth, cases of fratricide (including the Childs
murder case, mentioned in Episode Six), artificial insemination, menopause, impregnation by rape, birthmarks, Siamese twins. Gothic prose
is employed to describe Buck telling a ghost story.
Charles Lamb’s sentimental style is utilized to describe Bloom reminiscing about himself as a young man, then feeling paternal toward the
young men. The hazy, hallucinatory style of Thomas DeQuincey manifests the pessimistic turn Bloom’s thoughts suddenly take. Walter Savage
Landor’s prose style is incorporated to describe how Lenehan and Lynch
manage to offend Stephen by broaching the topics of his fruitless poetic
career and his dead mother. Conversation switches to the Gold Cup
race, then to Lynch’s girlfriend Kitty; we learn that Lynch and Kitty were
the couple caught by Father Conmee this afternoon (in Episode Ten).
Nineteenth-century historical and naturalist styles follow. The conversation turns to the mysterious causes of infant mortality. Charles
Dickens’s sentimental style is used to describe Mrs. Purefoy, joyous
Cardinal Newman’s religious prose style is employed to describe how
past sins can haunt a man. Walter Pater’s aestheticist style follows.
Bloom ponders Stephen’s aggressive words about mothers and babies.
Bloom remembers watching Stephen, as a child, exchange reproachful
glances with his mother. John Ruskin’s style is used to describe Stephen’s
spontaneous suggestion to proceed to Burke’s pub. Dixon joins them.
Bloom lags behind, asking Nurse Callan to say a kind word to Mrs. Purefoy. Thomas Carlyle’s prose style hails the virility of Mr. Purefoy.
The narrative breaks into a chaotic rendering of various twentiethcentury dialect and slang as the men hurry to Burke’s. Stephen buys the
first round. The Gold Cup race is discussed, Stephen buys another
round of absinthe, and Alec Bannon finally realizes that Bloom is
Milly’s father and nervously slips away. The barman calls time, and
someone gossips about the man in the macintosh in the corner. The barman kicks them out as the Fire Brigade passes on its way to a fire. Someone vomits. Stephen convinces Lynch to come with him to the brothel
district. A nearby poster advertising a visiting minister (the same ad that
Bloom received in Episode Eight) inspires a final switch to the style of
American sales-pitch evangelism.
s ummary & analys i s
The style of Episode Fourteen, one of the most difficult in the novel,
consists of imitations of chronological stages in the growth of the
English language, beginning with Latinate and Middle English prose up
to the chaos of twentieth-century slang. The progression of language is,
in turn, meant to correspond to the nine-month gestation period leading
to human birth. The imitations of the styles of different time periods
and prominent writers seem parodic because the styles are somewhat
exaggerated (some more so than others). The ultimate effect is to drive
home the point that has been made more subtly in Episodes Twelve and
Thirteen: narrative style contains built-in ideology that effects what is
reported and how it is reported. Joyce shows this by allowing each different style to gravitate toward its normal subject matter. Thus, the
moral-allegorical style of John Bunyan explores Stephen’s move away
from the piety of his youth; Defoe’s passage is spent describing the nogooders Lenehan and Costello; and the sentimental style of Charles
Dickens narrates the commendably maternal thoughts of Mina Purefoy. The differing moral judgments expressed by various styles are also
highlighted—Bloom’s compassion is venerated in the Middle English
prose section, while the hypocrisy of Bloom’s disapproval (of the young
men) is harshly revealed in the satirical prose style of Junius.
Episode Fourteen, “Oxen of the Sun,” corresponds to Odysseus’s
visit to the island of Helios in the Odyssey. Odysseus warns his men not
to touch the cattle that are sacred to Helios, but the men slaughter the
cattle for food while Odysseus is asleep. Zeus avenges Helios—only
Odysseus lives, and his voyage home to Ithaca is further delayed. Joyce
highlights the correspondence in part through a host of cattle imagery
and mainly through the theme of profaning the sacred. Joyce’s Episode
Fourteen, which takes place in a maternity hospital during the birth of
Mina Purefoy’s son, concentrates on fertility. The theme of the profaning of the sacred is thus represented by the blasphemous discussion of
pregnancy and birth.
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In the larger setting of the maternity hospital, as well as the smaller
setting of the revelrous gathering of medical students and friends, the
personal, private, and female aspects of pregnancy and birth are
obscured, while the social, clinical, political, legal, and economic aspects
are highlighted. Though their conversation centers on mothers and
birthing, the young men ignore the off-stage travails of Mina Purefoy.
Bloom alone respects the sacred quality of the birthing hour and remains
on the sidelines of the merrymaking. The theme of crimes against sacred
fertility is highlighted in the controversial topic of birth control.
In Episode Fourteen, for the first time, we see Stephen and Bloom
together in a social situation. The two men are both sidelined from the
rest of the group. Stephen’s musings on religious doctrine are as out of
place as Bloom’s sincerity and scientific explanations. Both refuse to go
home even at this late hour. Bloom is haunted by Molly’s actions of the
day, while Stephen is haunted by Buck, who shows up halfway through
this episode, as he did in Episode Nine, mocks Stephen’s philosophizing
and captures the attention of the group for himself. Though Stephen and
Bloom are equals in their ostracization, we are invited to see them as son
and father. Bloom’s consciousness is more fully rendered than Stephen’s
in this episode, and we see that he feels paternal and protective toward
Stephen. While questions of birth and labor lead Stephen’s mind to
sacred versions of creation, the same questions lead Bloom’s mind to
personal memories of his own dead son. A substitute for Rudy comes not
in the guise of Milly (who is figured in this episode as a future mother, not
a present daughter), but in the guise of Stephen, about whose emotions
Bloom becomes increasingly perceptive in this episode.
Episode Fifteen takes the form of a play script with stage directions and
descriptions, with characters’ names appearing above their dialogue.
The majority of the action of Episode Fifteen occurs only as drunken,
subconscious, anxiety-ridden hallucinations.
Near the entrance to Nighttown, Dublin’s red-light district, Stephen
and Lynch walk toward a familiar brothel. The focus switches to
Bloom, nearby. Bloom has attempted to follow Stephen and Lynch to
Nighttown, but he has lost them. He ducks into a pork butcher’s to buy
a late-night snack. Bloom immediately feels guilty about the expense,
and a hallucination begins in which Bloom’s parents, Molly, and Gerty
MacDowell confront Bloom about various offenses. Next, Mrs. Breen
appears—she and Bloom briefly renew their old flirtation.
In a dark corner, Bloom feeds his meat purchases to a hungry dog—
this suspicious-looking act engenders another hallucination in which
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two nightwatchmen question Bloom, who responds guiltily. Soon,
Bloom is on public trial, accused of being a cuckold, an anarchist, a
forger, a bigamist, and a bawd. Witnesses such as Myles Crawford,
Philip Beaufoy, and Paddy Dignam in dog form appear. Mary Driscoll,
the former housemaid to the Blooms, testifies that Bloom once
approached her for sex.
The nightmarish scene ends as Bloom is approached by prostitute
Zoe Higgins. Zoe guesses that Bloom and Stephen, both in mourning,
are together. She tells him Stephen is inside. Zoe playfully steals
Bloom’s lucky potato from his pocket, then teases Bloom for lecturing
her on the ills of smoking. Another fantasy ensues, in which Bloom’s
smoking lecture escalates into a campaign speech. Soon Bloom, backed
by Irish and Zionists, is coronated as leader of the new “Bloomusalem.”
The nationalist hallucination turns sour when Bloom is accused of
being a libertine—Buck Mulligan steps forward and testifies about
Bloom’s sexual abnormalities, then pronounces Bloom a woman.
Bloom gives birth to eight children.
The hallucination ends with the reappearance of Zoe. Only a second
of “real time” has passed since she last spoke. Zoe leads Bloom inside
Bella Cohen’s brothel, where Stephen and Lynch are socializing with
prostitutes Kitty and Florry. Stephen is pontificating and playing the
piano. Florry misunderstands Stephen and assumes he is making an
apocalyptic prophecy. An apocalyptic hallucination, Stephen’s, ensues.
Another hallucinatory sequence, Bloom’s, begins with the arrival of
Lipoti Virag, Bloom’s grandfather, who lectures Bloom about sex.
When Bella Cohen herself enters the room, a long hallucination
begins—Bella becomes “Bello,” proceeding to master and violate a feminized Bloom, while taunting him about past sins and Boylan’s virility.
Bello suggests that Bloom’s household would be better served without
him, and Bloom dies. The hallucination continues—perhaps in Bloom’s
“afterlife”—with the pristine nymph (from the picture in the Blooms’
bedroom) humiliating Bloom for being a dirty mortal. The spell ends
only when Bloom confronts the nymph with her own sexuality.
Bloom finds Bella Cohen standing before him—again, only seconds
seem to have “really” passed since her entrance. Bloom gets his lucky
potato back from Zoe. Bella demands payment from the men, and
Stephen gives Bella more than enough money for all three of them.
Bloom puts down some of his own money and returns Stephen’s overpayment to him, then takes control of all Stephen’s money for the
evening, since Stephen is drunk.
Zoe reads Bloom’s palm and pronounces him a “henpecked husband.” Another hallucination ensues, involving Bloom watching Boylan
and Molly have sex. Talk turns to Stephen’s Parisian adventures and
Stephen colorfully describes his escape from his enemies and his father.
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Zoe starts the pianola, and everyone except Bloom dances. Stephen
spins faster and faster, nearly falling. The rotting ghost of his mother
rises up from the floor. Stephen is horrified and remorseful—he asks for
confirmation that he did not cause her death. The ghost is noncommittal
in response, speaking of God’s mercy and wrath. The others notice
Stephen looks petrified, and Bloom opens a window. Stephen defiantly
tries to dispel the ghost and his own remorse, proclaiming that he will
stand alone against those who try to break his spirit. Stephen crashes his
walking stick into the chandelier. Bella calls for the police, and Stephen
runs out the door. Bloom quickly settles with Bella, then runs after
Bloom catches up with Stephen, who is surrounded by a crowd and is
haranguing British Army Private Carr about unwanted British military
presence in Ireland. Stephen announces his own personal intent to mentally subvert both priest and king. Bloom tries to intervene. Carr, feeling
his king has been insulted, threatens to punch Stephen. Edward VII, the
citizen, the Croppy Boy, and “Old Gummy Granny,” the personification of Ireland, appear to encourage the fight, though Stephen remains
distasteful of violence.
Lynch impatiently leaves. Stephen calls Lynch “Judas,” the betrayer.
Carr knocks Stephen out. The police arrive. Bloom spots Corny Kelleher, who is close with policemen, and enlists his help with Simon’s son.
Kelleher satisfies the police and leaves. Alone in the street, Bloom bends
over the barely conscious Stephen, as an apparition of Rudy, Bloom’s
son, appears.
Not much “really” happens in Episode Fifteen, though it is the longest.
The bulk of the episode consists of hallucinations that actually take
place in the real-time span of a second or two. In the first half of the episode, we can distinguish the lengthy hallucinations as emerging from
either Stephen’s or Bloom’s subconscious. Thus Bloom’s hallucinations
are either persecutory in tone, focusing on sexual guilt, or involve an
element of wish-fulfillment, as with the appearance of Josie Breen.
Stephen’s hallucinations seem to emerge out of elements of his day,
such as the interview with Deasy, and involve Stephen’s privately torturous interactions with authority, specifically with ideas about God. Yet
the distinctions between Stephen’s and Bloom’s hallucinations are not
sustainable. Stephen’s hallucinations involve elements of Bloom’s day
that Stephen could not know about and vice-versa. Eventually, the apparitions begin to reference earlier scenes and words unseen and unheard
by both Stephen and Bloom. It is perhaps more accurate to view the hallucinations of “Circe” as emanating not out of the subconscious of individual characters but out of the subconscious of the novel itself.
Bloom rouses Stephen and begins walking him to a nearby cabman’s
shelter for food. On the way, Bloom lectures Stephen about the dangers
of Nighttown and drinking with “friends” who desert one. Stephen is
silent. The men pass by Gumley, a friend of Stephen’s father’s. Further
down, Stephen is accosted by a down-and-out acquaintance, Corley.
Stephen half-seriously advises Corley to apply for Stephen’s soon-to-bevacant post at Deasy’s school, then gives him a halfcrown. Bloom is
appalled by Stephen’s generosity. As they continue on, Bloom reminds
Stephen that he has no place to sleep tonight himself now that Buck and
Haines have ditched him. Bloom suggests Stephen’s father’s house and
reassures Stephen of Simon’s pride in him. Stephen is silent, remembering a depressing home scene. Bloom wonders if he has misspoken in his
criticism of Buck.
Bloom and Stephen enter the cabman’s shelter, the keeper of which is
rumored to be Skin-the-Goat Fitzharris, the getaway-car driver during
s ummary & analys i s
Episode Fifteen serves to bring Stephen and Bloom closer together.
Bloom has followed Stephen to Nighttown with the intention of somehow protecting him—in the more action-packed second half of Episode
Fifteen, Bloom begins to fulfill this intent. Bloom overcomes the paralyzing nature of his own sexual guilt and anxiety about Boylan’s sexual
prowess to take control of several situations—the payment for the prostitutes, Stephen’s money, the dispute with Bella over the broken chandelier, and the attempt to save Stephen from the Carr altercation and
suspicious police. Comparatively, Stephen, in the latter half of “Circe,”
seems drunkenly unaware and emotionally overcome by his hallucinations. (Importantly, Stephen’s vision of his dead mother seems to be the
only true apparition of “Circe.” Thus Stephen responds with real emotion, while Bloom, who has experienced equal trauma, has not reacted
as though these things actually happened.)
In the final scenes, Stephen attempts to become intellectually and
artistically independent through his rejection of “priest and king” and
Ireland (Old Gummy Granny). Yet he is mainly depicted as having been
abandoned: by his mother, by his father, by Buck and Haines (who have
taken Stephen’s key and ditched him), and by Lynch (“Judas”). When
Stephen is left knocked unconscious at the end of the episode, with his
belongings scattered around him, it is Bloom who is there to act as symbolic father and pragmatic caretaker. This preliminary culmination of
the father-son union has the tone not of a cosmic convergence but a
wish-fulfillment for Bloom, a fact underscored by Bloom’s final hallucination of his dead son, Rudy.
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the Phoenix Park murders. Bloom orders coffee and a roll for Stephen.
A red-haired sailor asks Stephen what his name is, then if he knows
Simon Dedalus. Bloom is confused by Stephen’s noncommittal
response. When the sailor begins telling tall tales of Simon Dedalus,
Bloom assumes it must be a coincidence.
The sailor introduces himself as D.B. Murphy and begins telling
travel stories. He passes around a picture postcard of tribal women.
Bloom notes suspiciously that the addressee’s name is not Murphy. The
sailor’s tales remind Bloom of his own unambitious travel plans and of
the untapped market of affordable travel for the average man.
The sailor describes seeing an Italian knife a man in the back. At the
mention of knives, someone brings up the Phoenix Park murders.
Silence descends as the clientele think about the Park murders and
glance surreptitiously at the keeper. Murphy shows off his tattoos: an
anchor, the number 16, and a profile of Antonio, a friend who was later
eaten by sharks.
Bloom notices Bridie Kelly standing outside and ducks his head in
embarrassment. Seeing her leave, Bloom lectures Stephen about
disease-ridden prostitutes. Stephen shifts the conversation from traffic
in sex to traffic in souls. A confused discussion ensues—Bloom talks
about simple grey matter, and Stephen talks about theological debates
about souls.
Bloom urges Stephen to eat and brings their conversation back to the
sailor’s tale about the Italian knifer. Bloom agrees that Mediterraneans
are hot-tempered and mentions that his wife is half-Spanish. Meanwhile,
the other men discuss Irish shipping—the keeper insists England is draining Ireland’s riches. Bloom thinks a break with England would be foolish, but he wisely keeps silent. He describes to Stephen the similar scene
with the citizen, and his own comeback about Christ also being a Jew,
though Bloom reassures Stephen that he (Bloom) is not actually a Jew.
Bloom outlines his own antidote to the citizen’s combative patriotism: a
society in which all men worked and were rewarded with a comfortable
income. Stephen is unenthusiastic, and Bloom clarifies that work in
Bloom’s Ireland would include literary labor. Stephen scoffs at Bloom’s
plan, which condescends to Stephen—Stephen arrogantly inverts this by
insisting that Ireland is important because it belongs to him.
Bloom silently excuses Stephen’s impolite and possibly unstable
behavior on account of his drunkenness or his difficult homelife. Bloom
thinks again about the providence of their meeting, and imagines writing a Titbits piece entitled “My Experiences in a Cabman’s Shelter.”
Bloom’s eyes wander the evening Telegraph, including an item about
Throwaway’s Gold Cup victory and one about Dignam’s funeral, in
which Stephen’s name and “M’Intosh” are listed as attendees and his
own name is misspelled as L. Boom. Stephen looks for Deasy’s letter.
The third-person narrative of “Eumaeus” is full of overused foreign
phrases, clichés, and bungled sayings. It depicts the writing of a bourgeois person attempting to convey a sense of “culture” and failing
through lack of literary talent or perhaps late-night fatigue. Accordingly, the fluid persona of the narrator more often picks up Bloom’s
consciousness than Stephen’s, as Bloom in this episode is concerned
with keeping up “educated” conversation with his tired partner and
conveying a somewhat distinguished persona himself. The error-ridden
and banal narrative is the main device by which this climactic meeting
of Bloom and Stephen is rendered anticlimactic. Their fated father-son
coming-together, which in another book would perhaps be rendered as
a perfect union of consciousnesses and souls, is here as boring as the
narrative that describes it. Stephen is still drunk and dazed and remains
silent for most of the opening of Episode Sixteen. Bloom, far from being
the idealized father figure that Stephen needs, appears hypocritical and
naggingly overprotective.
Episode Sixteen, “Eumaeus,” is the first part of the three-episode
postlude of Ulysses that is referred to as the “Nostos,” which implicitly
likens Bloom’s night to Odysseus’s homecoming to Ithaca. Odysseus
disguises himself as an old man to surprise and defeat the usurpers gathered at Ithaca. Before entering the court, Odysseus reveals himself to his
son, Telemachus, at the hut of Eumaeus, a swineherd. Because Odysseus returns in disguise, Episode Sixteen is thematically concerned with
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Conversation in the shelter switches to Parnell and the possibility
that he is not dead but merely exiled. Bloom thinks of the time he
returned Parnell’s dropped hat to him in a crowd. Bloom meditates on
the theme of the long-lost returned or an impersonator claiming to be
the long-lost. Meanwhile, the keeper aggressively blames Kitty
O’Shea—Parnell’s married mistress—for Parnell’s downfall. Bloom’s
sympathies are with O’Shea and Parnell—Kitty O’Shea’s husband was
obviously inadequate.
Bloom shows Stephen a picture of Molly. Bloom silently hopes
Stephen will abandon his prostitute habit and settle down. Bloom considers himself similar to Stephen, remembering his own youthful socialist ideals. Bloom, his head full of plans for them both, invites Stephen to
his house for a cup of cocoa. Bloom pays the bill for Stephen’s uneaten
fare, and he takes Stephen’s arm, as Stephen still seems weak. They
begin walking home and chat about music, then usurpers and sirens.
Stephen sings an obscure song for Bloom, who considers how commercially successful Stephen could be with his vocal talent. The episode
ends with a streetsweeper’s view of the two men walking arm in arm
into the night.
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disguise and false identities. The two main characters, besides Stephen
and Bloom, of Episode Sixteen—the keeper of the cabman’s shelter and
the sailor D.B. Murphy—are shady characters whose true identities are
in question. The keeper is rumored to be the legendary “Skin-the-Goat”
Fitzharris who drove the getaway vehicle for the Phoenix Park murderers. And Bloom immediately suspects that Murphy, too, is not who he
claims to be. Bloom’s meditations on the theme of the long-lost
returned, or an impersonator returned in his place, reunite the Odyssean theme of the wanderer returned with the theme of disguise-impersonation. Interestingly, it is not Bloom, who is referred to as a
“landlubber,” but D.B. Murphy (away at sea for seven years), who
seems parallel to Odysseus here. This analogy, however, is hardly to be
trusted in an episode so concerned with imposters.
Related to its preoccupation with false identities, Episode Sixteen
also continues the meditation on rumor and gossip throughout
Ulysses. In Episode Sixteen, we see the ability of gossip to both
exclude people and create a community, as Bloom—until now a subject of rumor—participates in gossip, partially in an attempt to fraternize with Stephen. Rumor further intersects with history in
“Eumaeus.” The historical event of the Phoenix Park murders (in
which the British chief secretary for Ireland and the under-secretary
were assassinated in Phoenix Park by a group calling themselves the
Irish Invincibles) still generated confusion and rumor more than
twenty years later, in 1904. While the Phoenix Park murders offer an
example of historical events engendering rumor, the case of Parnell
demonstrates rumor engendering historical events. Charles Stuart Parnell, a prominent and effective Irish leader, was on the verge of accomplishing home rule for Ireland when news broke of his long-standing
affair with the married Kitty O’Shea. Parnell’s career was ruined (as
were Ireland’s short-term chances for home rule) when he was persecuted by the Irish Catholic Church and public. Though the shadow of
Boylan and Molly’s affair constantly hangs over him, Bloom sympathizes with the adulterous couple, perhaps because he associates himself with Parnell, another civic-reformer and gentleman.
Bloom erroneously imagines that his preoccupation with civic and
political reform gives him something in common with Stephen, but
Stephen’s rudely cryptic statements are deliberately apolitical. Bloom
continues to give Stephen the benefit of the doubt, to be grateful for his
company, and to make future plans for their continued acquaintance.
The idealistic father-son relation between the two is further undermined here, as Bloom’s plans for them reveal the entrepreneurial side of
his interest in Stephen.
. . . each contemplating the other in both mirrors of the
reciprocal flesh of theirhisnothis fellowfaces.
(See quotations, p. 83)
s ummary & analys i s
Episode Seventeen is narrated in the third person through a set of 309
questions and their detailed and methodical answers, in the style of a
catechism or Socratic dialogue.
Bloom and Stephen walk home chatting about music and politics.
Arriving home, Bloom is frustrated to find that he forgot his key. He
jumps over the fence, enters through the kitchen, and re-emerges at the
front gate to let Stephen in. In the kitchen, Bloom puts the kettle on.
Stephen declines Bloom’s offer to wash, as Stephen is a hydrophobe.
The contents of Bloom’s kitchen are reviewed, including those that
betray Boylan’s presence earlier in the day—a gift basket and betting
tickets. The latter remind Bloom of the Gold Cup, and the misunderstanding between himself and Bantam Lyons (in Episode Five) dawns
on him.
Bloom serves cocoa for them both, and they drink in silence.
Bloom, watching Stephen think, considers his own youthful forays
into poetry. The narrative reveals that Bloom and Stephen have met
twice before—once when Stephen was five, and another time when he
was ten. On the latter occasion, Stephen invited Bloom to dinner at the
Dedalus’s, and Bloom politely declined. Their personal histories are
compared, as well as their temperaments—Stephen’s is artistic, while
Bloom’s tends toward applied science through his interest in invention
and advertising.
The two men trade anecdotes, and Bloom considers the possibility of
publishing a collection of Stephen’s stories. They recite and write Irish
and Hebrew for each other. Stephen senses the past in Bloom, and
Bloom senses the future in Stephen. Stephen goes on to chant the antiSemitic medieval story of “Little Harry Hughes,” in which a Christian
boy is beheaded by a Jew’s daughter. Stephen’s exposition of the story
suggests that he could see both himself and Bloom as the Christian child
of the story. But Bloom has mixed feelings and immediately thinks of his
own “Jew’s daughter,” Millicent. Bloom remembers moments from
Milly’s childhood and, thinking of a potential union between Stephen
and Milly (or Molly), invites Stephen to stay the night. Stephen gratefully declines. Bloom returns Stephen’s money to him, rounded up one
pence, and suggests a variety of future interactions. Stephen seems noncommittal, and Bloom becomes pessimistic. Stephen seems to share
Bloom’s sense of dejection.
s ummary & analys i s
james joyce
Bloom shows Stephen out, and they urinate together in the yard
while looking at the night sky, where a shooting star suddenly appears.
Bloom lets Stephen out, and the two shake hands as the church bells
ring. Bloom listens to Stephen’s footsteps and feels alone.
Bloom goes back in. Entering the front room, he bumps his head on
furniture that has been moved. He sits down and begins to disrobe.
The contents of the room and Bloom’s budget for the day (omitting
the money paid to Bella Cohen) are catalogued. Bloom’s ambition to
own a simple bungalow in the suburbs is described. Bloom deposits
Martha’s letter in his locked cabinet drawer and thinks pleasantly
about his favorable interactions today with Mrs. Breen, Nurse Callan,
and Gerty MacDowell. The contents of the second drawer include several family documents, including Bloom’s father’s suicide note. Bloom
feels remorseful, mostly because he has not upheld his father’s beliefs
and practices, such as keeping kosher. Bloom is grateful for his father’s
monetary legacy, which saved him from poverty—here Bloom daydreams of his unrealized vagrant self, traveling all over the globe, navigating by the stars.
Bloom’s revery ends, and he moves toward his bedroom, thinking
of what he did and did not accomplish today. Entering the bedroom,
Bloom notices more evidence of Boylan. Bloom’s mind skims over his
assumed catalogue of Molly’s twenty-five past suitors, of which Boylan is only the latest. Bloom reflects on Boylan, feeling first jealous,
then resigned.
Bloom kisses Molly’s behind, which is near his face, as he is sleeping with his head at the foot of the bed. Molly wakes up, and Bloom
tells her about his day with several omissions and lies. He tells Molly
about Stephen, whom he describes as a professor and author. Molly is
silently aware that it has been over ten years since she and Bloom have
had sexual intercourse. Bloom is silently aware of the tenseness of
their relations since the onset of Milly’s puberty. As the episode comes
to a close, Molly is described as “Gea-Tellus,” Earth Mother, while
Bloom is both an infant in the womb and the sailor returned and resting from his travels. A typographical dot ends the episode and indicates Bloom’s resting place.
Episode Seventeen, “Ithaca,” is often read as the final episode depicting
Ulysses’ wanderings—the large dot at the end of the episode seems to
function as a period to the long sentence that is the novel proper. Yet
Episode Seventeen offers no easy or triumphant resolution. The cold,
scientific objectivity of the reporting underscores the unfamiliar and
untriumphant quality of Bloom’s Odyssean homecoming. The narrative style is replete with detail, yet not all the details seem particularly
s ummary & analys i s
relevant. Thus, just as we reach the climactic episode of Bloom and
Stephen’s union, the narrative style switches to an encyclopedic narrative—the opposite of a traditionally plotted story in which all information pertains and leads up to a climax and a meaning or moral. Joyce
refuses to wrap up the emotional strands of the novel, or to offer a
heavy-handed moral. Instead we are left with a consistently ambivalent
final view of our two male protagonists.
The final union between Stephen and Bloom is infused with positive
symbolic importance through the episode’s ritualistic diction and universal motifs of death and creation. Yet the form of the episode, with its
itemized narrative style, also highlights Bloom’s and Stephen’s differences even more succinctly, and the union cannot be said to be a practical success. Though Stephen has begun to sober up and become more
personable, the perceived gap between them is reinforced by Stephen’s
blatantly anti-Semitic story, inexplicably offered after a heartwarming
exchange of the Irish and Hebrew languages, in which the two men feel
the similarity of their “races.” There is evidence that Stephen does not
mean for the story to be an aggressive gesture—he seems to use it, as he
has many things today, as a kind of parable, indeed, a parable in which
both himself and Bloom can be figured as victims and receive redemption. Bloom’s and Stephen’s failures to consider each other’s modes of
reception causes the disconnect. Here lies the lesson of Episode Seventeen, to the extent that there is one: any coming-together must also be
marked by a recognition of otherness.
Stephen’s and Bloom’s most successfully close moments in Episode
Seventeen reflect this lesson—for example, their sharing of the Irish and
Hebrew languages is marked by otherness. Bloom and Stephen both coopt languages that neither is fluent in to enact this meeting of cultures.
And it is at this moment that both, looking at and listening to each
other, recognize what is alien in the other—Stephen hears the past in
Bloom, and Bloom sees the future in Stephen. This interplay of strangeness and familiarity is again replayed in the garden scene. Joyce exploits
this interplay not just in the meeting and parting of Bloom and Stephen,
but in the reading experience of Ithaca itself. In the obtusely scientific
and literal narrative of the episode, things familiar to us, like a kettle
boiling, are made strange. Like Bloom and Stephen, we readers must
appreciate what is strange in order to recognize the familiar.
The second half of Episode Seventeen details Bloom’s return to his
house and his preparation for bed. This corresponds to Odysseus’s
return to his court, where he slays Penelope’s suitors then reveals himself to Penelope, who has slept through the slaughter. Yet upending this
heroic dimension, as always, is the prosaic—in Episode Seventeen,
Bloom is shown to be most pathetically bourgeois. The fantasy of
Bloom as the dark wanderer is tempered by the extensive description of
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Bloom’s ultimate ambition to own a well-furnished suburban bungalow. These competing perspectives hold each other in check, and to the
extent that Bloom emerges as a hero in the bourgeois context, it is
because he is able to replicate the narrative’s technique of shifting perspective. Bloom can pragmatically see himself in the context of a single
night’s sleep, a lifetime’s work, or a universe’s lifetime. Bloom bests
Boylan through a similarly impressive display of shifting perspective—
Bloom contextualizes Boylan not as a equal and immediate rival, but as
one of many, not the first nor the last. Ulysses dwells on the idea that
shifting perspective forces one to question one’s own moral judgment.
To the extent that Bloom duplicates this practice within himself, he
emerges as the hero of the book. As you may imagine, though, there is
another perspective on this, and it is Molly’s perspective in Episode
Eighteen that finally flushes out the biased visions of her that have held
precedence thus far.
s ummary & analys i s
so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart
was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.
(See quotations, p. 84)
The first of Molly’s eight giant “sentences” that comprise her interior
monologue begins with her annoyance and surprise that Bloom has
asked her to serve him breakfast in bed. Molly intuits that Bloom has
had an orgasm today, and she thinks of his past dalliances with other
women. She thinks of her afternoon of sex with the aggressive and wellendowed Boylan—a refreshing change after Bloom’s strange lovemaking techniques. On the other hand, Molly guesses Bloom is more virile
than Boylan and remembers how handsome Bloom was when they were
courting. Thinking of Josie and Denis Breen’s marriage, Molly feels that
she and Bloom are perhaps mutually lucky.
In Molly’s second sentence, she considers her various admirers: Boylan, who likes her feet; the tenor Bartell D’Arcy, who kissed her in
church; Lt. Gardner, who died of fever in the Boer War. Molly ponders
Bloom’s underwear fetish. Aroused, Molly anticipates seeing Boylan on
Monday and their upcoming trip to Belfast alone. Molly’s thoughts
turn briefly to the world of concert singing, annoyingly girlish Dublin
singers, and Bloom’s help with her career. Molly remembers Boylan’s
anger over Lenehan’s lousy Gold Cup race tip. Molly thinks Lenehan is
creepy. Considering future meetings with Boylan, Molly resolves to lose
some weight and wishes she had more money to dress stylishly. Bloom
should quit the Freeman and get lucrative work in an office. Molly
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remembers going to Mr. Cuffe to plead for Bloom’s job back after he
was fired—Cuffe stared at her breasts and politely refused.
In her third sentence, Molly ponders beautiful female breasts and
silly male genitalia. She thinks of the time Bloom suggested she pose
naked for a photographer to make money. She associates pornographic
pictures with the nymph picture that Bloom used to ineptly explain
metempsychosis this morning. Back to breasts, she remembers how
Bloom once suggested they milk her excess breast milk into tea. Molly
imagines gathering all of Bloom’s outrageous ideas into a book, before
her thoughts return to Boylan and the powerful release of her orgasm
this afternoon.
Molly’s fourth sentence begins with a train whistle. Thoughts of the
hot engine car lead her to thoughts about her Gibraltar childhood, her
friendship there with Hester Stanhope and Hester’s husband “Wogger,” and how boring her life was after they left—she had resorted to
writing herself letters. Molly thinks of how Milly sent her only a card
this morning and Bloom a whole letter. Molly wonders if Boylan will
send her a love letter.
Molly’s fifth sentence begins with her recollection of her first love letter—from Lieutenant Mulvey, whom she kissed under the Moorish
wall in Gibraltar. She wonders what he is like now. Another train whistles, reminding Molly of Love’s Old Sweet Song and her upcoming performance. She is again dismissive of silly girl singers—Molly views
herself as much more worldly. Considering her dark, Spanish looks
which she inherited from her mother, Molly guesses that she could have
been a stage star if she had not married Bloom. Molly shifts in bed to
quietly release built-up gas, chiming with another train’s whistle.
In her sixth sentence, Molly’s mind wanders from her Gibraltar girlhood to Milly. Molly does not like being alone in the house at night
now—it was Bloom’s idea to send Milly to Mullingar to learn photography, because he sensed Molly and Boylan’s impending affair. Molly
ponders her close but tense relationship with Milly, who has become
wild and good-looking like Molly used to be. Molly realizes with frustration that her period is starting and gets up to use the chamberpot. She
realizes that Boylan did not make her pregnant. Scenes from the afternoon run through her mind.
In her seventh sentence, Molly climbs quietly back into bed and
thinks back over their frequent moves, a result of Bloom’s shaky financial history. Molly worries that he has spent money on a woman today,
as well as the Dignam family. Molly thinks of the men at Dignam’s
funeral—they are nice, but Molly resents their condescension to Bloom.
Molly recalls Simon Dedalus’s vocal talent and wonders about Simon’s
son. Molly remembers meeting Stephen as a child and fantasizes that
Stephen is probably not stuck-up, just young enough, and appealingly
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clean. Molly plans to read and study before he comes again so he will
not think her stupid.
In her eighth sentence, Molly thinks of how Bloom never embraces
her, weirdly kissing her bottom instead. Molly reflects on how much
better a place the world would be if it was governed by women. Considering the importance of mothers, she thinks again of Stephen, whose
mother has just died, and of Rudy’s death, then stops this line of
thought, for fear of becoming depressed. Molly imagines arousing
Bloom tomorrow morning, then coldly telling him about her affair with
Boylan to make him realize his culpability. Molly makes plans to buy
flowers tomorrow, in case Stephen comes. Meditating on flowers and
nature, the products of God, she thinks lovingly of the day she and
Bloom spent outdoors on Howth, his marriage proposal, and her
resoundingly positive response.
s ummary & analys i s
In Episode Seventeen, we saw Bloom-Odysseus return home and slay
his opponents with magnaminity. Episode Eighteen, as the final third of
the “Nostos,” both calls this triumphant ending into question and ultimately ratifies it. If we read Bloom’s final request for breakfast in bed as
his reassertion of control of his household, then Molly’s indignant reaction to his request unsettles this patriarchal closure. Yet Episode Eighteen also depicts Molly going through the same trial of meeting the
suitors-opponents that Bloom enacted in Episode Seventeen. And
Molly seems to discard them one by one for Bloom, confirming the triumph of Bloom-Odysseus with her final affirmative “yes.”
Early readers of Ulysses—preoccupied by the supposed obscenity of
Molly’s monologue—viewed Molly as the archetypical whore. However, recent focus on the realistic quality of the monologue shows that
Molly’s character comes across as believably contradictory and
nuanced. Her thoughts reveal her to be extremely self-centered, yet she
is also shown to be charitable and potentially sympathetic toward others, such as Josie Breen and Stephen. She comes across as uneducated
but clever, opinionated, and refreshingly frank. She is hypocritical and
self-contradictory but also highly perceptive—she ratifies our negative
judgments of some characters, such as Lenehan. Finally, Molly’s monologue is highly entertaining—she has a sense of humor and a gift for
mimicking the speech of others.
Molly’s monologue contains facts and emotions that force us to
revise our previous perspective of her and her marriage. For example,
Bloom’s mental list of Molly’s infidelities in Episode Seventeen is here
shown to be wildly incorrect—Boylan is Molly’s first sexual infidelity,
and it has occurred only after more than ten sexless years (and perceived
lack of affection) with Bloom. Molly’s thoughts offer a new perspective:
s ummary & analys i s
it is Bloom who has been compromising her, and his own infidelities call
his easy judgment of Molly as unfaithful into question.
However, though Molly gets the final say, her perspective is also dramatized as fallible, specifically through her meditations on Stephen,
which are misinformed and idealized. Molly fantasizes about Stephen’s
humility, friendliness, and cleanliness—three characteristics that do not
apply to Stephen as we have seen him. This technique does not demonstrate Molly’s individual misperception, as much as the lesson of perspective in Ulysses: no single character’s perspective will be sufficient to
pass judgment. Though Molly’s feelings toward Bloom oscillate wildly
throughout her monologue, as the episode comes to a close, her
thoughts center more on Bloom and Stephen-Rudy and less on Boylan
and other suitors. The sexual desire prevalent through her monologue
becomes more evidently underwritten with a compatible desire for the
intimacy of the family structure. Molly’s mental return to the scene on
Howth that Bloom has also thought of several times today shows the
power of memory to provide a source of continued intimacy between
them, even if her final yes may be in reference to Mulvey or Bloom. This
uncertainty is characteristic of Joyce’s endings, and it serves to remind
us that we have witnessed only a single day in the lives of the Blooms—
progress may have been made in their estranged marriage, but there certainly was not a complete turnaround. On the other hand, the unrestrained affirmation and joy of the final lines cannot be denied.
Important Quotations
quotati ons
Amor matris: subjective and objective genitive.
This quotation, part of Stephen’s inner monologue, appears in Episode
Two. Amor matris translates to “mother love,” a concept that Stephen
ponders while giving extra help to his student Sargent. Sargent reminds
Stephen of himself at the same age—Stephen was similarly dirty and
disheveled, a child only a mother could love. Stephen thinks of “mother
love” frequently in Ulysses—he contrasts the concrete, bodily reality of
a mother’s love to the disconnected, tension-ridden relation between a
father and a child. In Episode Nine, Stephen calls amor matris “the only
true thing in life,” and skeptically identifies paternity as “a legal fiction.” The phrase “subjective and objective genitive” refers to the confusion about the translation of amor matris—it can be either a child’s
love for a mother or a mother’s love for a child. This touches on
Stephen’s difficulties in deciding whether to be an active or a passive
being. In Episode Nine, he frames the choice this way: “Act. Be acted
on.” In the quotation from Episode Two above, we see Stephen trying to
understand the ethics and power relations involved in his teacherstudent relationship with Sargent in terms of the compassion entailed
by “mother love.”
History is a nightmare from which I am trying
to awake.
This quotation appears in Episode Two, during Stephen’s conversation
with Mr. Deasy. With Sargent and his class earlier in Episode Two,
Stephen was the reluctant teacher, and now Deasy attempts to position
him as the pupil. But Stephen blithely maneuvers out of this role by way
of a few cryptic statements, such as the one above. Here, Stephen’s version of history as a “nightmare” is an explicit challenge to Deasy’s conception of history as moving toward one goal (the manifestation of
God), and an implicit challenge to Haines’s version of history in Episode
One as something impersonal and cut off from the present (“It seems
history is to blame”). Stephen’s conception of history has several meanings. Stephen sees history, and Irish history in particular, as filled with
violence—Deasy’s and Haines’s conceptions of history enable this violence by excluding certain people from history in Deasy’s case (those
who do not believe in a Christian God) and by absolving those who per-
petrate violence from any blame in Haines’s case. Stephen’s comment
also refers to his conception of the tensions between art and history—
Stephen sees history as an impossible chaos and art as a way of representing that chaos in an ordered fashion. Finally, Stephen’s statement is
also an extremely personal one—his own history is something he is trying to overcome. At the opening of Ulysses, Stephen is feeling particularly hopeless about the possibility of rising above the circumstances of
his upbringing.
—What is it? says John Wyse. —A nation? says Bloom.
A nation is the same people living in the same place. —By
God, then, says Ned, laughing, if that’s so I’m a nation
for I’m living in the same place for the past five years.
. . . each contemplating the other in both mirrors of the
reciprocal flesh of theirhisnothis fellowfaces.
This quotation occurs in Episode Seventeen—it is a narrative description of Stephen and Bloom’s wordless interaction in Bloom’s garden
just before Stephen leaves. Their meeting is in no sense ideal—a fatherson connection is not explicitly made, and Stephen declines to stay the
night and probably will not see Bloom again. Yet the narrative of Episode Seventeen manages to convey their union as symbolically meaningful, by tapping various themes. This sentence manages to include an
optimistic set of thematic connotations: the “recognition” theme from
(disguised) Odysseus and Telemachus’s meeting in The Odyssey; and
an idea of the father-son relationship involving versions of the same
bodily self (“flesh”). The “reciprocal” aspect of their meeting implies
that Stephen has managed to find a medium in the troublesome
quotati ons
This dialogue occurs in Episode Twelve, during the confrontation scene
at Barney Kiernan’s pub. Led by the citizen, the men at Barney Kiernan’s explicitly identify Bloom as an outsider, his Jewish-Hungarian
roots being incompatible with their essentialist conception of Irishness
as a “racial” and Catholic category. Here, Bloom’s conception of a
nation may seem excessively loose (especially when he backs up several
lines later to qualify, “Or in different places”), but Bloom’s position on
nationality as a self-selected category is part of the triumph of Bloom’s
compassionate humanism over the violent essentialism of the citizen
and others. Ned Lambert’s sarcastic response to Bloom here is an example of another way in which Bloom is repeatedly marked as an outsider—the Dublin men with whom Bloom associates are skilled in using
mockery and sarcasm to establish authority over others, while Bloom
does not use humor in this way.
jam es jo y c e
dynamic of activity-passivity. The “theirhisnothis” narrative play also
manages to suggest that the meeting is an ideal balance between a coming-together and a realistic recognition of “otherness.”
. . . and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my
mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes
and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all
perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I
said yes I will Yes.
quotati ons
Molly’s final words seem to refer immediately to her memory of accepting Bloom’s proposition of marriage during their day spent on Howth.
However, the ambiguity of the many masculine pronouns in Molly’s
monologue also exists here—in the same paragraph, she remembers a
similar outdoor scene of love with Lt. Mulvey, and the ambiguity of this
seeming affirmation of the Blooms’ marriage is typical of Joyce’s endings. However, the looseness of Molly’s language in these final lines also
enacts a combination of the immediate realistic level of the text with the
idealistic, symbolic level—Molly’s “Yes” here is an unqualified affirmative of natural life and of physical and emotional love.
Key Facts
f u l l ti t l e
au t h or
James Joyce
ty p e of wor k
Modernist novel; comic novel; quest novel
l a n g uag e
ti me a n d p l ac e written
Trieste, Italy; Zurich, Switzerland; Paris; 1914–1921
dat e o f fi rst p u b licatio n
Individual episodes were published serially starting in 1918; as a
novel, it was first published in 1922
p u b l i sh e r
First serially in The Little Review; as a novel by
Shakespeare & Company
p oi n t o f v i e w
Episodes One, Two, Four–Eleven, Sixteen, and Seventeen are
told from the third-person viewpoint. Episode Three features
interior monologue. Episode Twelve is told from the first-person.
Episode Thirteen is told from the third and first person. Episode
Fourteen is told variously in the third-person and first-person.
Episode Fifteen is in play-script form. Episode Eighteen features an
interior monologue.
key facts
na r r ator
Episodes One, Two, Four–Twelve, Sixteen, and Seventeen feature
anonymous narrators. Episode Three features Stephen’s thoughts.
Episode Thirteen features an amalgamation of anonymous
narrator, Gerty MacDowell, and Bloom. Episode Fourteen features
a variety of narrators, meant to be representative of the prose styles
of historical English authors. Episode Fifteen has no narrator.
Molly Bloom is the first-person narrator of Episode Eighteen.
james joyce
ton e
The narratives of Episodes One through Eight have a
straightforward tone. Episodes Nine through Eleven have a selfconscious, playful tone. Episode Twelve has a hyperbolic,
belligerent tone. Episode Thirteen has a sentimental tone. Episode
Fourteen has an extreme variety of tones, including pious,
sensational, and satiric. Episode Fifteen has no narrator and
therefore no dominant narrative tone. Episode Sixteen has a tired
tone. Episode Seventeen has a scientific tone.
te n s e
s e t t i n g (t i me )
8:00 a.m., June 16, 1904–approximately 3 a.m., June 17, 1904
s e t t i n g (p l ac e )
Dublin, Ireland, and its surrounding suburbs
p rotag on i st
Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom, Molly Bloom
key facts
major c o n fl i c t
Molly Bloom’s infidelity with Blazes Boylan; Stephen Dedalus’s
search for a symbolic father; Leopold Bloom’s desire for a son (his
only son died eleven years ago several days after his birth)
r i si n g ac t i o n
Bloom leaves his house for the day, sees Blazes Boylan on the
street several times, and becomes anxious about Blazes and
Molly’s four o’clock rendezvous. Bloom is convinced they are
going to have sex. Stephen and Bloom go about their day. They
pass by each other several times and coincidentally meet at Holles
St. Maternity Hospital.
c l i ma x
The first climax could be when Bloom looks after Stephen during
Stephen’s argument with Private Carr (at the end of Episode
Fifteen). The second climax is Bloom’s return home to his bedroom
to discover evidence of Molly’s infidelity and to mentally overcome
the threat of Blazes Boylan (Episode Seventeen).
fa l l i n g ac t i on
Bloom and Stephen rest at a cabman’s shelter (Episode Sixteen),
then return to the Bloom residence and have cocoa and talk
(Episode Seventeen). Bloom tells Molly about his day and asks her
to serve him breakfast in bed (Episode Seventeen). Molly lies awake
considering the events of the day and a happy memory from her and
Bloom’s past.
the me s
The quest for paternity; the remorse of conscience; compassion as
heroic; parallax or the necessity of multiple perspectives
mo t i f s
Lightness and darkness; the home usurped; the East
sy mb o l s
Plumtree’s Potted Meat; the Gold Cup horserace; Stephen’s Latin
Quarter hat; Bloom’s potato talisman
fo r e s h a dowi n g
Stephen’s and Bloom’s compatible dreams set in an Eastern
marketplace street
key facts
Study Questions &
Essay Topics
q ue s ti ons & es s ays
Describe Dublin as it appears in Ulysses. How does it figure
into the novel?
In one sense, Dublin appears as a metropolis in Ulysses. It has the trappings of a large city—a public transportation system, a marketplace district, a harbor, several newspapers, a library, a museum, a court system,
a university and so on. These elements all appear in Ulysses, and in episodes such as Episode Seven they serve to emphasize the institutional systems that play into Dubliners’ daily lives, instead of local or rural
concerns. Joyce also emphasizes the feel of the urban space by carefully
incorporating the geography of the city. The progress of the characters
is relentlessly tracked by street and building names. This technique
reaches its climax in Episode Ten, in which the progression of many characters in disparate parts of the city is briefly tracked. Episode Ten creates
a sense of the large spatial area of Dublin and the bustle of modern life.
In another, sense, however, Dublin appears to be a small town, especially socially. As Bloom moves around the city all day, he constantly
runs into friends and acquaintances, and his acquaintances all seem to
know, or know of, each other. News and gossip travel quickly, by word
of mouth rather than mechanical means. Politics and press seem to
intersect with the personal sphere, for example, when Stephen uses his
connections to get Mr. Deasy’s letter printed in the evening newspaper.
Dublin appears to be not a modern, urban space of anonymity and isolation but a community run by personal interaction and influence.
Describe how the narrative styles of the first six episodes of
Ulysses differ from the rest of the novel. How does this effect
how one interprets the text?
The first six episodes of Ulysses feature a third-person narrator, with
dialogue and interior monologue interspersed. The narrative is realistic
and straightforward, but is sometimes hard to distinguish from the interior monologues. The interior monologues attempt to realistically render bits of the stream-of-consciousness of the two main characters,
Stephen and Bloom. The focus seems to be on developing and depicting
the characteristics of each of these individuals through the ways in
which their thoughts work. Thus, several episodes, such as Three and
Five, consist mainly of Stephen’s or Bloom’s thoughts with very little
dialogue or narrative. As the novel progresses, however, the narrative
becomes increasingly ambiguous. Some of the later episodes feature
first-person narrators with distinctive styles (as in Episode Twelve) or a
self-conscious third-person narrative that gestures to the text as a text by
referencing phrases from earlier episodes (as in Episode Eleven). Narrative devices, such as the genealogy of English literary style in Episode
Fourteen, or the question-and-answer technique of Episode Seventeen
can somewhat obscure what is “actually” happening with the plot. Consequently, our attention shifts from the characters and their individual
trials and motivations to an interpretation of narrative style. We are
forced to realize the extent to which style effects what can be narrated.
Ulysses is a novel in which few women appear and even
fewer speak. Consequently, much of the thinking about
women comes from male viewpoints in the novel. How are
Stephen’s and Bloom’s treatment of women different? How
are they similar?
ques ti ons & e s s ays
Stephen’s and Bloom’s different treatments and understandings of
women seem to follow the basic differences in their ages and temperaments. Youthful Stephen does not seem to have much experience with
women. We see Stephen interact only with the prostitutes at Bella
Cohen’s brothel, and we hear of his past relations with the prostitute
Georgina Johnson and, possibly, the “virgin” at Hodges Figgis’s bookstore whom he remembers in Episode Three. The mature Bloom, on the
other hand, is at ease with women and converses with several in a
friendly way in Ulysses. Bloom thinks of women in a physical way—he
often perceives Molly in terms of how she feels or smells. Bloom is attentive to women’s appearances, and his sightings of women often spark
sexual fantasies or physical reactions. Stephen, on the other hand,
thinks of women more often in the course of his aesthetic or religious
arguments than in sexual fantasies. The women of his arguments fit easily into “types” (Eve and Ann Hathaway as betrayers, for example) and
are defined by those roles, rather than by their appearances.
The two men are similar in their sense of women being mysterious
and powerful. Bloom’s idea of putting two women writing on a cart as
an advertisement and Stephen’s story about the woman at the Queen’s
hotel mysteriously writing words on paper (both in Episode Seventeen)
both depend on an innate curiosity about what women hide. Stephen’s
crediting of Ann Hathaway’s role in Shakespeare’s artistic life and
Bloom’s understanding of the sacred nature of childbirth suggest that
both men regard women as powerful, if in limited ways. Their parallel
appreciations of women as mysterious and powerful are, in fact, not
that surprising given that both men are “haunted” by women—Stephen
jam es jo y c e
by the ghost of his mother and Bloom by the idea of Molly’s infidelity.
Finally, both men seem to consider women as subjects of art. In Episode
Three, Stephen’s memory of the Hodges Figgis “virgin” and his view of
a female cocklepicker on the beach combine to form the female subject
of the poem he composes. Similarly, Bloom, at the end of Episode Four,
considers writing a short story for Titbits based on Molly’s sayings.
q ue s ti ons & es s ays
Often, the three protagonists of Ulysses are understood in terms
of a spectrum, with Stephen and Molly on either end and
Bloom’s personality combining elements of each. In what ways
might Stephen and Molly be similar?
If Bloom and Stephen are the “heroes” of Ulysses, which
characters are their “enemies” and why?
Discuss how teaching and learning figure into the novel. Can
you pinpoint specific scenes that seem to be about teaching?
Does Ulysses have an argument about how teaching and
learning should work?
Can you make a case for Bloom as an artist?
How does the concept of home work in Ulysses? How do the
main characters relate to their real and their ideal homes? Does
“home” have a political import?
Review & Resources
Who haunts Stephen throughout Ulysses?
A. His father
D. Shakespeare
B. Antagonistic
C. Masochistic
D. Optimistic
B. Jealousy
C. Arousal
D. Anger
B. Prince Hamlet C. Claudius
D. Gertrude
C. Boylan
D. Simon
B. Mina Purefoy C. Molly
D. Gertie
B. Sex
C. Housekeys
D. Underwear
C. Bloom
D. Lt. Gardner
Who was Molly’s first love?
A. Lt. Mulvey
B. Boylan
The Answer Key appears on page 92.
revi e w & re s ou rc e s
B. The citizen
What does Bloom request from Molly before going to bed?
A. Breakfast
C. Hamlet
Who fantasizes about Bloom in Episode Thirteen?
A. Boylan
B. Telemachus
Who attacks Bloom in Episode Twelve?
A. Stephen
D. Usurper
According to Stephen, with which character from Hamlet does
Shakespeare identify?
A. The ghost
C. Savior
Which of the following does not describe Bloom’s reaction to
Molly’s infidelity?
A. Resignation
B. Muse
Which of the following least characterizes Bloom?
A. Empathetic
D. Ulysses
With whom is Stephen not identified?
A. Odysseus
C. Shakespeare
What does Stephen perceive Buck to be?
A. Lover
B. His mother
james joyce
ellmann, richard. James Joyce. 1959; revised, New York:
Oxford University Press, 1982.
Reference and Annotations
gifford, don, with robert j. seidman. ulysses Annotated:
Notes for James Joyce’s ulysses. Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1988.
Explication and Criticism
budgen, frank. James Joyce and the Making of ulysses. 1934.
Reprint, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1960.
french, marilyn. The Book as World: James Joyce’s ulysses.
Cambridge, Massachussetts: Harvard University Press, 1976
gilbert, stuart. James Joyce’s ulysses: A Study. 1930. Revised,
New York: Vintage Books, 1952.
hayman, david. ulysses: The Mechanics of Meaning. 1970.
Revised, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982.
kenner, hugh. Ulysses. 1980. Revised, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins
University Press, 1987.
manganiello, dominic. Joyce’s Politics. London: Routledge &
Kegan Paul, 1980.
1. B; 2. D; 3. A; 4. B; 5. D; 6. A; 7. B; 8. D; 9. A; 10. A
Answer Key:
rev ie w & re s ou rces
hart, clive, and david hayman, eds. James Joyce’s ulysses:
Critical Essays. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of
California Press, 1974.
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